Home » Judicial » Minister Moyo Wades Into JudgeZRP Spot Fines Quarrel

INFORMATION Minister Jonathan Moyo has waded into the spat between a High Court judge and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) over spot fines, accusing the judge of misdirecting himself in “making a very serious personal pronouncement that had the false ring of a court ruling.”

Opening the Masvingo High Court Circuit Monday Justice Francis Bere said the police practice of charging and collecting spot fines as well as impounding vehicles was not supported by the law.

“There is no law which compels a motorist to deposit a fine with the police if he desires to challenge the alleged offence. But it looks like the motorists are being forced to pay these fines on our public roads irrespective of their attitude to the charges,” Justice Bere said.

“It occurs to me that any collection made by the police must be made in terms of Section 356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07). That piece of legislation does not support the manner in which the spot fines are being collected and handled by the police.

“The section does not give police officers the power to force a motorist to pay a fine on the spot if he does not wish to do so or if he does not have the money on his person.”

The ZRP, which has been accused of diverting from treasury money raised from the spot fines, reacted angrily to the remarks saying Justice Bere was expressing personal views which had no effect at law.

“Police wish to aise the public that Justice Bere is expressing his own personal opinion and (his) statement is not binding on police operations,” said national police spokesman Paul Nyathi.

“As an organisation we view the quoted comments as interference on the separation of powers between the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary.

“We encourage the public to continue cooperating with the police on all activities to ensure the smooth delivery of justice in the country and maintenance of law, order and security.”

And in a statement on his Facebook page Tuesday evening, Moyo backed the ZRP’s position.

“Notwithstanding any legal or even factual merits that Justice Bere’s statement might have, it must be said that it is not in the interest of the rule of law or of justice that the Judge was apparently willing and happy to misdirect himself to the point of making a very serious personal pronouncement that had the false ring of a court ruling,” said the Minister.

“With all respect to the Honourable Judge, it was wrong for him to use a public forum to make statements that sounded like a court ruling or judgment outside court without a case before him without examining competing facts without hearing the affected or interested parties including ZRP and without hearing legal arguments from lawyers representing the contending parties in the issue.”

He added: “In my respectful view, what Justice Bere said about ZRP spot fines was no better than a speech which was unfortunately presented in the language and with the contrived authority of a court judgement.

“Not surprisingly, that speech has been misunderstood as such. The Police are right to feel aggrieved. This does not mean that the Police have no case to answer, but simply that they have not been lawfully made to answer in a court of law. And so the jury is still out as to whether ZRP spot fines are illegal. That can only be tested and determined in court.

“Meanwhile, Justice Bere’s premature and misplaced speech has most probably irreparably harmed the prospect of having that test determined in favour of motorists whose jubilation is certain to be short-lived as they face continued grief on the treacherous roads.”

Source : New Zimbabwe