For a couple of weeks I ran an item in the Morning Mirror, asking if anyone else had been unfairly fined for 'running' a red light when they were absolutely adamant they had done no such thing.
It would appear that it is a new initiative to get even more fine money out of the unsuspecting public. Even more pertinent now with the doubling of the fines. After all, it is 'your word against theirs'.
I don't know what to say, some of the horror stories that were sent to me made me blush with shame that our 'officers of the law' could behave like this.
One feels one should stand one's ground and do the horrendous 'court' route but this following story should deter one from going in that direction!
'A senior citizen friend (Rob, over 70 years old) was pulled over by the traffic police in S Parirenyatwa St after passing through the traffic lights at 14th Ave and accused of proceeding against an amber light.
He was adamant that he had not done so or, at worst, the lights had changed to amber as he crossed the line.
After much argument and getting nowhere, he therefore declined to pay an Admission of Guilt fine and elected to contest the matter in court.
He was duly summoned to the Magistrates Court but not all parties were present on the day so the case was postponed to a future date. This happened on 11 occasions (yes 11!) over a period of many months but on the 12th date the magistrate, prosecutor, police woman and accused were all finally present. The 'accused' was armed with extracts from the Highway Code indicating that it was permissible to proceed against an amber light if, when it changed to amber, it was not possible for the driver to stop safely due to his proximity to the white line, plus a chart, also from the Highway Code, with the accepted 'shortest stopping distances' for a vehicle at stipulated speeds.
The magistrate asked the police woman how far the car was from the line and she replied '5 metres'. Rob then happily produced the stopping distance chart which indicated that at 60km/h (the legal speed in town) that the shortest stopping distance is 36m (or 18m at 40km/h). This, he claimed, clearly demonstrated that he would have been unable to stop safely if the lights had changed to amber when he was 5m from the line.
The magistrate, however, declared that she found him guilty as she believed that he 'could have stopped if he had tried hard enough' and sentenced him to $20 fine or 20 days in jail. Rob obviously elected to pay the fine but when he wanted to proceed to the Fines Office to make payment, he was told it was lunchtime and the office was closed, and he was led away like a common criminal and detained in the cells at Tredgold Buildings. Whilst in the cells the warders constantly goaded him and attempted to obtain 'lunch money' from him, but he steadfastly refused. Finally after 2.00pm he was led back to the Fines Offices and paid he fine and was allowed to go free.
Although he was absolutely convinced of not being guilty of any wrong-doing, Rob claims that he just wishes now that he had paid the fine when first stopped although it would have been completely against his Christian principles to do so.
A horrific indictment of our policing and justice system..
Every e mail I received was a similar tale of rabid injustice, and every person was treated with rudeness and disdain.
Why are we Zimbabweans so treated by the men and women who are employed to serve us and serve the true ends of justice in this country
On our travels we pass London Bobbys, Dallas Cops, Parisienne Gendarmes, Spanish Guardia and none of them have inspired anywhere near the fear and loathing with which our own police are received in this country.
I did google 'the ten most corrupt police forces in the world' and thank goodness we did not appear there however!
I was delighted to see in the Chronicle recently, that a number of police were arrested by the Donnington police for taking bribes. Maybe, maybe we are on the correct path to alleviating this sad sad situation in Zimbabwe.
I saw someone advertising 'dashboard cams' the other day, maybe this is the way to go!!
Now I don't mean to be the good citizen who takes up the cudgel for all things civic, like those amazing people who used to write to the newspapers in days gone by i.e. the esteemed Neil Dacomb and the erudite Martin Lee, but,
If anyone knows any senior cops, or the Minister of Law and Order, please forward this e mail to them!!