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Snr Asst Comm Charamba answers your questions

by Staff reporter
03 Jul 2016 at 16:14hrs | Views

The following are responses provided by Police Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba to issues raised by The Sunday Mail readers in the issue of June 19, 2016.

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I would like to thank members of the public for enquiring how the Police execute their duties. As Police, we greatly value your observations and questions as well as complaints as they assist us in rectifying some issues that hinder co-operation between the police and the public.

I will now respond to some issues which were raised as outlined below:

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"Nyika Yedu", Harare: Why should I hand in my driver's licence to a police officer who does not want to positively identify himself/herself and after that refuse to hand back my licence?

Answer: Police officers are empowered by law to demand identity particulars from members of the public, motorists included, and record such particulars where necessary. In fact, the police can detain a person for up to 12 hours if he fails to identify himself while they verify his particulars.

The ZRP has adopted transparency as one of its values and we do not have anything to hide in our operations. We do not hide our identities, all our members are issued with police identity cards and resources permitting name tags with force numbers are also displayed on their uniforms.

Regrettably, at the moment resources do not permit. Anyone who comes across a person purporting to be a police officer and is not satisfied should approach the nearest police station for assistance. We do not expect a genuine police officer to refuse to identify himself or go to a police station.

Police officers will only withhold a licence when they suspect it to be fake and further investigations are to be carried out.

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"Nyika Yedu": Is policing only for the roads? Ever since the increase of the police presence on the roads, has anything unusual been discovered?

Answer: No, policing is not only for the roads but for other issues such as security, law and order just to mention a few. My response to this question when it was presented last time is still relevant. Measures are in place to trim these roadblocks and members of the public are free to advise police if they feel that a certain road has too many roadblocks.

On the second issue, the police is detecting smuggling syndicates on a daily basis through the mounting of these roadblocks, so apart from checking for vehicle defects, wanted persons, armed robbers, stolen stock and goods are also accounted for at traffic checkpoints.

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"Concerned and Very Experienced Driver": Why assign officers without driver's licences to man roadblocks. If the police officer smashes my car on the way to the station, whose responsibility is it? Also a driving police officer is not asked to produce a driver's licence, why is that so?

Answer: There is no law that permits an unlicenced driver to drive a motor vehicle on our roads and if a police officer wantonly breaks the law he will be prosecuted. No one is above the law.

If damages are caused to your vehicle through such acts, you are free to sue the particular officer in his individual capacity and not the organisation.

As for police officers who drive vehicles not being asked for drivers' licences, if they are driving police vehicles, our policy is very clear: no unlicenced driver is allowed to drive, period.

We also have our Unit Police who check to see if all police officers driving private vehicles are licenced.

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"CJ": I was stopped and told that I had committed an offence, of keeping my driver's licence in my purse as it was "far from reach". I would like to know where we can access these rules and laws so that we are not arrested for offences we do not know?

Answer: There is no such law which provides for where a licence should be kept. That police officer was simply being mischievous and you have a right to formally complain.

In fact, Section 74 of the Road Traffic Act (74 Power to demand licences and detain motor vehicles) (Chapter 13:11) provides for the following: "(1) A police officer or inspecting officer may require the driver of a motor vehicle – (a) to produce his licence to drive such motor vehicle; and (b) if his licence to drive such motor vehicle is a foreign driver's licence or an international driving permit referred to in Sub-section (1) of Section 18, to produce any visitor's entry certificate or other certificate or permit issued to him in terms of the Immigration Act (Chapter 4:02), or in terms of any enactment relating to refugees; or failing production of such licence, to produce proof of his identity.

"(2) If, upon being required to do so by a police officer or inspecting officer in terms of Sub-section (1), a driver, having failed to produce his licence to drive the motor vehicle concerned, fails to produce proof of his identity, the police officer or inspecting officer may detain the motor vehicle for a period not exceeding 24 hours.

"(3) A person who, on being required to do so in terms of Sub-section (1), fails to produce any licence, certificate or permit shall be guilty of an offence unless, within seven days thereafter, he – (a) produces at a police station the licence concerned and, if the licence is a foreign driver's licence or an international driving permit referred to in Sub-section (1) of Section 18, any visitors entry certificate or other certificate or permit issued to him in terms of the           Immigration Act (Chapter 4:02), or in terms of any enactment relating to refugees; and

"(3a) A person guilty of an offence in terms of Sub-section (2) shall be liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment."

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"Mahwani Angu": On fire extinguishers in a cab, are you not referring to, say trucks and pick-ups? If it also refers to sedans, can we please know where to secure (mount) the fire extinguisher?

Answer: Statutory Instrument 129/15 Section 53(2)(b) clearly states that "every fire extinguisher referred to in Sub-section (1)(d) shall be secured at an easily accessible and visible position within the cab of such vehicle".

The police are not responsible for coming up with legislation.

In this case, a boot cannot be said to be easily accessible and visible, except for other vehicles.

Section 53(1): "No person shall drive a motor vehicle, other than a motor cycle, on any road unless the vehicle is equipped with (a) a serviceable spare wheel; and (b) an efficient jack; and (c) a wheel-brace or wheel-spanner capable of undoing the vehicle's wheel-nuts; and (d) in the case of (i) a light motor vehicle, a serviceable fire extinguisher weighing a minimum of zero comma seven five kilogrammes; or (ii) a heavy vehicle, a serviceable fire extinguisher weighing a minimum of one comma five kilogrammes."

The issue of fire extinguishers does not apply to trucks and pick-ups only.

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"Mahwani Angu": Police also fine people for triangles saying each of the triangles must be red on both sides. They also say the triangles must have the name of the manufacturer and date and they must also be in a case and you wonder what this is all for? Manufacture date? Do they have a shelf life, do they expire?

Answer: Police are only there to enforce the law. They do not come up with legal instruments, so complain to relevant offices.

These requirements are set out in Statutory Instrument 129/15 section 52, 52, and Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use) Regulations, 2015

"(1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road unless two warning devices complying with the requirements of this section are carried in the vehicle: Provided that, if the motor vehicle is drawing one or more trailers, two additional warning devices shall be carried in respect of each such trailer.

"(2) Every special visual warning device referred to in Sub-section (1) shall (a) be in the form of an equilateral triangle of the dimensions, materials and construction prescribed in the Sixth Schedule; and (b) be permanently and legibly marked with the following particulars (i) the name of its manufacturer and a serial number;

"(ii) year of its manufacture expressed numerically as for example, 1988; and (c) be reflective on both sides; and (d) be so designed as to stand in place not more than 10 degrees from the vertical plane with the lower base of the triangle horizontal and not more than 250 millimetres from the ground;

"(e) be capable of being erected in place and replaced in its container without the use of tools. (3) When not in use, the special visual warning device shall be carried in terms of Sub-section (1) in an opaque protective container or secured in a light-tight, enclosed and easily            accessible compartment in the motor vehicle or trailer concerned."

Members of the public are free to approach their Members of Parliament to present their disgruntlement in Parliament for adjustments or amendments.

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"Anonymous": How does she explain the presence of say, eight officers at three successive roadblocks, roadblocks that will be within a stone's throw of each other? What crime can be missed by officers at the first roadblock that can be unearthed by the ones on the next three roadblocks? Why cannot officers at the first roadblock carry their duty well so that there is no need for any subsequent roadblock which in turn delay motorists?

Answer: The number of police officers depends on the nature and purpose of roadblock and the dear reader should not be worried about eight officers as long as they are performing their duties professionally.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police reserves the right to explain why at times there are eight officers. Simply, each situation has its own considerations.

However, as already stated in my answer above, the ZRP has taken note and measures to trim roadblocks are in place. Again, members of the public are free to advise the police if they feel that a certain road has too many roadblocks.

You may contact the nearest police station or the National Complaints Desk on 04-703631.

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"Anonymous": There is also the issue of police not wearing reflective vests when conducting their roadblocks but rather they will be holding the vest in their hands and using it to flag you down, is this allowed? The issue of vests has not been discussed further, is it legal for an officer to refuse with my driver's licence?

Answer: Reflective vests are part of uniform and should be worn and not used to flag down vehicles. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, if you come across such occurrences, please contact police on the numbers already supplied above.

The issue of withholding driver's licence has already been responded to.

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"Davison": One issue that I did not see addressed is why are these roadblocks higher than many of our neighbouring countries like Botswana and South Africa? What is so peculiar with Zimbabwe that we are harassed and frustrated on the highway and suburbs with such incessant roadblocks?

Answer: In the absence of statistics, it is difficult to tell whether our roadblocks are, indeed, higher than those in our neighbouring countries. Again, members of the public should note that every country in the world monitors what goes on, on its roads on a daily basis. There are different methods of analysing how individual countries come up with the number of roadblocks on their roads.

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"Lesley": My concern is on reflective stickers. New vehicle models come with in-built rear and front reflectors to aid during breakdowns. Why does the police insist on motorists adding more stickers?

Answer: Statutory Instrument 129/15 Section 32 provides for the specifications of reflectors (Retro reflector: general requirements): "32(1) Except as otherwise provided in these regulations, every retro reflector required to be fitted to a vehicle and pedal cycle in terms of these regulations shall

"(a) be of the honeycomb grade (high intensity grade) or diamond grade and perform so as to meet the specifications listed in the chromaticity chart in the Third Schedule; and (b) be circular, rectangular or triangular in shape; and (c) if circular, have a diameter of at least 60 millimetres or, if not circular, have an area of not less than 3 000 square millimetres and a height of at least 50 millimetres; and

"(d) have a mark or marks certifying that such reflective material meets the specifications of the Third Schedule, or any other standard equivalent to or better than that specified in the Third Schedule and acceptable to the Standards Association of Zimbabwe."

I trust and hope all your questions have been adequately responded to and you are welcome to continue highlighting areas you feel should be addressed.

Last but not least, the Police do not condone corruption by members or the public and any such activities should be immediately reported to police. There is no instance where the Police have failed to take decisive action when such reports come to our attention.

I thank you.

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