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On police and spot fines

28 Jun 2017 at 06:00hrs | Views
In Shona folklore, the eponymous judge, Justice Jackal, allows us to always seek to temper justice with mercy. Justice Jackal is more than an animal. He is also personified as a superhuman judge - he transcends all human thinking in the resolution of disputes.

A story is often told of a man who was on his usual business - hunting and trying to get some to take home. In the thick of the forest, he heard the heavy sounds of an animal in excruciating pain - a lion. With much bravery, he goes to investigate why the king of the jungle would await its obvious death sentence in such a cruel manner.

The lion pleads with the man to rescue it from the cage. The adage goes - a caged lion is harmless. The man ignores the adage, saves the lion and banks on the promise that he would have his life preserved - the lion will preserve the sanctity of human life.

In no time the lion summons its strength to attack the man. He manages to escape the claws aimed at his apple - the Adam's apple. Lion vows that the man will definitely breathe his last. In very few milliseconds, the man will kiss goodbye to this beautiful mother earth.

Death -flesh separated from the soul and the spirit. The man is in a critical situation - chimonauswa in our Shona way of describing a situation where a human feels like a fly – caught in the web of the spider - obviously awaiting the death sentence.

He proposes a win-win solution to the lion – ask some three animals. No human, it it is proper that a lion should kill and eat a man who rescues it. In a comedy of scenes a cow gives lion the greenlight to kill the man.

A dog also urges man to let the lion kill him so that the dog will feast on the man's bones. Reason? Man used to be unthankful when the dog captured game. The dog would be given bones and man would eat the meat. So lion must eat the flesh and the dog continue to eat "the bones".

The saviour animal is the thin Jackal. Man wanted to bypass the animal. It was very thin. Lion boomed and ordered the man to ask jackal. The jackal listens to man's narration attentively. He also asks lion to confirm man's version of events. The lion becomes the complainant, the man the accused person, and the Jackal, the innovative judge.

The facts have been proffered to the judge. The law is to be applied by the judge. He calls for a court visit to the crime scene, which is called at law an inspection in loco. Lion confidently jumps into the trap. Man is asked to confirm is that was the state of events. Man affirms the position.

Lion even volunteers to lock the trap – chizarira to be precise. The judge asks the lion if the man indeed rescued him. Lion affirms the position. The result follows the cause. The judge asks the man to narrate what was transpiring when lion was in a trapped state.

"My Lord, I was going on my own errands. I wanted to look for food for my starving family. " The lion, angry and famishing, retorted, "Unlock this trapping door. I want to eat you quickly. Jackal will eat your bones. Dog will chase jackal away. The cow will taste your 'dry' blood. Today you will join your ancestors."

Judge Jackal asks lion to be silent as the verdict is passed. The man is told in clear terms, "proceed with your journey". The judge also surprises the lion with the verdict – remain in that position. "Goodness is the only investment that pays. Another man will possibly rescue you."

The resolution of traffic offences calls for the invention of a Judge Jackal. One proceeds when a robot is amber and is told "wapinda late amber", or "ranga rava red ka iri (the robot was already red)". A spike is placed under the front tyres.

Another is already in a traffic light circle – the robot turns red before he could have the opportunity to turn. He is stopped – the reason is that the circle's space only allows for two vehicles. A dispute arises between the officer and the alleged traffic offender.All the other officers join in. No motorist is brave enough to join in for fear of being charged with obstructing the course of justice. Further, he/she will be late for work or his/her appointment.

A citizen is being manhandled in some situations. Under normal situation, he can also file a case of assault on the part of the police officer. A very material issue that relates to the role of the traffic police officer in enforcing the constitutional mandate of the Zimbabwe Republic Police would arise in this regard.

A great deal of what is expected of the traffic police officer is to be gleaned from the provisions of the Constitution, itself the grundnorm or supreme law of the national law. The police are obliged enforce the laws of the country by considering the provisions of the Constitution, as the measure of the conduct of the citizen and the State official. This can simply be referred to under two words – vertical accountability.

There have been concerns in the not-so-distant past on some clarifications about roadblocks and integration operations between the ZRP, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

The ministry responsible for police operations made an attempt to explain the differences between spot checks, and highway patrols and the standard roadblock. A link between these roadblocks and the mooted integrated roadblocks was also explained.

The reality on the ground is very different. The ministry must meet the people in the streets to solicit their concerns. It is very easy to lay the basis for roadblocks on air. The facts are scanty. Situations are not presented as they happened.

Urgent concerns relate to the state of the roads and the state of the vehicles. It is not easy when the road is the driver. The police must hearken to this fact. Some vehicles are in bad shape not because of the motorist's fault.

Further, and most importantly it is evident to a traffic officer that a traffic offender is not a criminal. He or she is an offender of some traffic regulations or laws – failure to wash a vehicle, failure to carry a spare wheel, insecure fittings, and failure to put the correct reflector on the appropriate part of the vehicle, and so on.

Even in criminal proceedings, there is the first party and the second party – the language used to refer to the parties who will be involved in an accident. The use of the term "accused" is only meant to fit in the common usage of such a term. It is convenient to say State versus Accused Traffic Offender.

Because the traffic offender is not like a recidivist or some miscreant who robs, steals, rapes, kills or unlawfully enters into premises, the traffic officer must have this in mind when dealing with the alleged offender.

The road user must be treated with dignity. It was explained that some road users may traffic humans or drugs, and to that extent can be arrested through spot checks. Those situations are not wholly endemic. This is because there are criminal offences that are committed by dangerous housebreakers who do not use vehicles.

Basic principles of justice demand that the offender be treated as such – mwana haaroverwi kunzi aba nzungu, asi kuti nzungu hadzibiwi. A plain dilemma exists to the alleged offender: firstly, maintenance of law and order is done by the police detail who does not form a precise notion of the degree of offending or its quality.

The citizen is only told to pay a fine – zvamaita ndezve $10. What is the offence? The answer is pitched in a manner that says one must simply comply. Secondly, the conduct of violating the right of the citizen through the use of a spike under a citizen's car wheel.

The police service is part of the security services established by the Constitution. Section 207 lists the services to include the Defence Forces, the Police, Prison and Correctional Service, Intelligence Service and any other such service that may be established in terms of the Constitution.

The services are not allowed in terms of Section 208 to do the following: prejudice the lawful interests of a political party, to have members who act in a partisan manner and to violate fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.

The Police has its primary role, added to security roles, enshrined in Section 219 of the Constitution: to maintain law and order. The traffic officer fits into this category. Recent explanations from the police have shown that some man roadblocks, conduct spot checks and are deployed for Highway Patrol.

I look upon this to be one of the most important institutions in enforcing domestic law. The concerns by citizens are about the use of spikes in manning roadblocks. In forming the gist of this argument, various issues, if not all of them, are abstracted from the conduct of the police and the citizen. This ultimately leads the discussion to the need to refer to actual scenes on the road – and to show why a superhuman judge -Judge Jackal – is needed in dealing which the spike-wielding officer.

For deregulation of the rules, "biscuit tyres" come to mind. The issue of their use has no problem. It is a serviceable tyre. It has the normal size that was designed for emergency situations. It is not even a tyre that was meant to be used in cold conditions as is normally believed.

There is no justification for not using that can be obtained from the Statutory Instrument that is used, S1129/15. Further, there is this issue that the net vehicle mass on a vehicle must be similar to the mass indicated on ZINARA vehicle licence disc. The individual motorist is made to pay a fine for this. It is ZINARA which estimates the said mass when it issues the licence disc. The discrepancy is blamed on the citizen, which makes it clearly absurd. Some golden rule kind of interpretation is needed.

The re-regulation aspect: What is the role of the Highway Patrol officer, the roadblock officer and the spot check officer? How are those roles impacting on the individual citizen? The motorist is motioned to stop. He complies. A licence is demanded. The licence is not given back. A whole lot of offences are now brought to the fore.

The citizen demands his licence back as is it is the law. The officer refuses to give back the licence until some fine is paid. There are threats that the vehicle would be seized. The citizen asks to have a ticket issued so that he may pay or argue later. He or she is told that some "correct" ticket form has since run out of print. At whose expense? Judge Jackal please!

Source - zimpapers
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