HARARE – Government is implementing new technology to deal with the contentious issue of spot fines payment by offending motorists, Home Affairs deputy minister Obedingwa Mguni has revealed.
This comes amid furore and confusion over spot fines, with the courts ruling that they are not mandatory, but the police continuing to impose them on the other hand.
Responding to MPs’ enquiries during the National Assembly question-time session on Wednesday last week, Mguni said government is going to introduce an electronic ticketing system to replace spot fines.
“The new integrated system that we are to unveil soon will allow a person not to pay there and then, but to carry the receipt because that receipt will also be known at the centre or data area so that every detail of that offender is captured,” he said, adding that “… it will be traceable”.
Crucially, he said the system will allow motorists “to pay (fines) within…seven days”.
Zanu PF MP for Gokwe-Kabuyuni, Leonard Chikomba, had asked Mguni if it was not possible for the police to give out duplicate tickets to companies that cannot give monies to the drivers to move around with, so that they pay later after getting fined for traffic offences.
Last year, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and Attorney-General Prince Machaya unanimously conceded it is unconstitutional for traffic police officers to detain and demand payment of spot fines from motorists at roadblocks.
The trio made the concessions in response to a High Court application filed by a Harare motorist, Andrew Makunura, who was allegedly ordered to pay a spot fine for not having a radio listener’s licence in 2015, but went on to file a constitutional challenge against payment of spot fines.
In a combined plea, while acting in their official capacities, Chombo, Chihuri and Machaya, together with the arresting officer, Agrippa Chinyama, denied infringing Makunura’s constitutional rights.
They said the applicant had an option to pay or not to pay the said spot fine on the day in question.
“The actions and conduct of the respondents (Chombo, Chihuri, Machaya and Chinyama) are guided by the law, rules and regulations. The third defendant (Chinyama) denies detaining the plaintiff,” they said through their lawyers from the government’s civil law division.
“Neither are motorists compelled to pay fines on the spot. It is only a person, who has committed an offence and admits to doing so and is willing to pay the fine, who has an option to pay a fine on the spot. In this case, the plaintiff (Makunura) opted to pay a fine for not having a listener’s licence for which he paid $10.”
They added: “He was not at all compelled to pay a fine. Spot fines have already been declared to be unconstitutional in terms of the old Constitution and defendants (Chombo, Chihuri, Machaya and Chinyama) have no reasons to disrespect the law.”
However, in practice, the police have continued to force motorists to pay spot fines regardless of the ruling.