HARARE – Harare municipal police must have arresting powers for them to enforce the law effectively, council’s acting chief traffic and transport planner Judith Mujegu said.
Speaking at the Harare City Council’s Rapid Results Initiative review on Tuesday, she said the city’s police were failing to exercise their full mandate due to that.
The three statutory functions of municipal police are traffic policing, enforcement of municipal by-laws and regulations; and preventing crime
However, their powers and responsibilities are more restricted than those of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), including lack of arresting powers.
“We need our municipal police to have arresting powers because right now their hands are tied. We want our police to have the power to issue fines and arrest offenders for the various traffic offences,” Mujegu said.
“Right now, offenders can do what they want because they no know the city does not have the muscle to arrest them,” she said.
She was speaking in relation to municipal police’s failure to meet their 100-day target.
“The city must have a proper municipal police station as it has a functioning legal department,” she said.
Mujegu also bemoaned the lack of cooperation by the ZRP.
The acting traffic chief said the ZRP was uncooperative and their attendance of council traffic meetings was erratic. “When we have programmes that we include them, at the last minute they always make excuses for not participating. The police have been storing their spikes at our offices but last week they just took their equipment without stating a reason. They just pull out of things and claim that they have national duties to attend to. There was a time when we impounded some vehicles and needed to know their owners. Because of the lack of cooperation from the ZRP, we were charged a fee of $5 per car to check for ownership at the Central Vehicle Registry. The ZRP simply does not take us seriously,” Mujegu said.
Municipal police forces do not conduct criminal investigations. Any person arrested by them on suspicion of having committed a criminal offence must be handed over to ZRP.
Harare Residents Trust said municipal police should first serve the interests of the city before they get arresting powers. The trust said many HCC facilities were being manned by external security companies while the city claims to have a capable force.
“People are vandalising your properties and infrastructure yet you want arresting powers. First secure your halls before requesting permission to issue traffic fines,” the Trust said.