Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Taxi drivers cry foul over spot fines

HARARE - Masvingo High Court Judge, Justice Francis Bere opened a pandora’s box when he stated that spot fines and the impounding of vehicles were illegal. The police on the other hand say the statement was made out of court and does not in any way impact on their operations.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa added his voice on the matter saying spot fines were put in place to ease pressure on the courts but police had eroded public confidence because of corruption on roadblocks.
The Daily News’ Community Affairs editor Margaret Chinowaita went onto the streets of Harare to seek the opinions of commuter omnibus and taxi drivers who are almost always on a collision course with traffic police.
Taxi drivers cry foul over spot fines

Elias Katanganda, 32 of Damofalls, Ruwa
“I am a taxi driver and a client pays me when I reach his destination but the police demand a spot fine before I reach that destination. This becomes challenging. The police charge high fees as spot fines. I don’t know how they reach at certain figures. The spot fines seem like a constant $20 for every offence. We want to know what does the law say and we will follow that. As it is, I do not feel like I am protected by the law.”

Casper Sangatwa, 52, of Epworth, Harare
“Spot fines are too high and how they are administered leaves a lot to be desired. The police can just approach us at the taxi rank and they demand spot fines and if we don’t pay, our taxis are impounded. This does not make business sense. We are making a maximum of $20 a day minus $5 for fuel. I started driving taxis a long time ago but this is the most difficult time I have encountered in my trade, there is no business and the police are milking us dry.”

Fungai Genti, 40, of Msasa Park, Harare
“Spot fines are breeding corruption. I have never seen the list of spot fines, as a driver I need to see this list so that I will know that the police are acting above board. I usually end up paying spot fines because of intimidation. The police threaten that if I do not pay, they would impound my car. My car is my business and I cannot afford to lose it. I think these spot fines should be made illegal.”
Brian Kamauti, 42, of Glen View, Harare
“I heard that a judge said spot fines were illegal. The authorities look down upon us kombi drivers but we are also smart. We are being abused; there is no need for us to pay spot fines. Where is the money taken to? Spot fines are open to abuse by the police. They are making money for themselves.”

Edmore Kaima, 39, of Mabvuku, Harare
“Spot fines are an avenue for corruption. In most cases, one is not given a receipt. The fine is usually $20 and I don’t know how the police reach at that amount. If one tries to reason with the police, they intimidate you by threatening to impound your vehicle. Usually, one would be forced to pay, without any knowledge of whether it is a bribe or a real spot fine.”
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