Home » Legal and Judicial Affairs » No Reprieve for Impounded Kombis

The High Court has dismissed an urgent chamber application by some commuter omnibus operators seeking to compel Harare City Council to release at least 25 kombis impounded for dropping and picking up passengers at undesignated points in the city centre this month.Council, as of Wednesday, had impounded 800 kombis for flouting parking laws as operators continued avoiding the Coventry holding bay.

The vehicles would be vetted and if defects and other offences are detected, more charges are preferred.

If need be, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Vehicle Inspection Department may be called to deal with problems that require their attention.

Vehicles with more offences, according to council, will spend more time in the council premises and some may not even be released until they have complied with the law.

This prompted the operators to mount the urgent chamber application at the High Court.

Justice Charles Hungwe on Wednesday threw out the application saying he will give the reasons for the decision later.

This means council’s procedure has been condoned and the vehicles in question will spend more time in the council yard.

Harare lawyer Mr Charles Kwaramba of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni law firm, represented council while the operators were represented by Mushonga, Mutsvairo and Associates.

In the dismissed application, the operators argued that their vehicles had been held by council for more than a week for an offence of picking and dropping passengers at undesignated points, an offence which only attracts a fine but the fines were not being accepted.

They argued that they were willing to pay the fines but council was not fining them.

According to the application, the operator’s vehicles were accumulating daily storage charges of US$17 yet the local authority was not allowing them to pay.

Opposing the application, Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi submitted that the operators were approaching the court with dirty hands and that their application should be dismissed.

Dr Mahachi said the holding bay strategy was meant to restore order and to decongest the city but the operators were resisting the idea. Council argued that it was legally allowed to clamp and impound the vehicles and that the procedure is transparent and lawful.

“I must state that the manner of towing vehicles is very transparent. Whenever the offender is caught, the driver is asked to drive to the yard. It is only when such driver refuses or abandons the vehicle that municipal drivers can drive the vehicle,” said Dr Mahachi.

Dr Mahachi said some vehicles spend more time in the yard because they will be having many charges.

“The real problem is that most of these omnibuses do not have sufficient paperwork, or they are not roadworthy or they have fake documents. So naturally, they stay longer in the yard as they have too many hurdles.

“While a traffic offender can pay to council for the offence of obstruction, there are other offences such as lack of a permit, which would require other departments such as the police to deal with.

“It would be totally irresponsible for council to release a vehicle because it has paid for offences punishable by council and ignore the other issues such as lack of a permit,” he said.

Source : The Herald

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