TRAFFIC police are not abiding by any structure when charging spot fines and some documents detailing how they use the money they collect have been destroyed. Officers at Featherstone, Chivhu, Shamva, Bindura Rural and Central, and Kwekwe Central police stations destroyed Z69J documents, which are the source records on fines issued. In all, 5 033 pages of documentation disappeared.
In her 2013 report, Comptroller and Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri reveals disturbing details of discrepancies on spot fines.
She could not rule out fraudulent activities by police officers manning roadblocks who charged different amounts in spot fines for similar offences.
As part of the forensic audit, a sample of four police stations in Matabeleland North was selected where it was revealed that police were either undercharging or overcharging spot fines.
“Fraud could be perpetrated and the motoring public could lose confidence with the force. Audit revealed that there were inconsistencies in charges levied against motorists. Some were below and others above the standard charges in the deposit fines schedule for offences without any satisfactory reasons.
“Police records showed three incidents in Victoria Falls where the officers handed down spot fines to motorists which are not reflected in the deposit fines schedule. In the first instance a motorist was said to have been travelling without a route authority and was charged US$10 whereas the stipulated fine was supposed to be US$15 or US$20 for the first and second offence respectively.
“Victoria Falls Traffic Police charged (a motorist) for not having a plate light and was ordered to pay US$20 but the spot fine for the traffic offence in the deposit fines schedule is US$5. Another motorist was charged US$10 for failing to be secured in a seat belt but the charge is US$5,” reads part of the audit.
Hwange police undercharged a motorist after recording a fine of US$15 instead of US$20 for driving without a licence.
High Court Judge Justice Francis Bere, recently torched a storm when he said police officers were forcing motorists to pay spot fines when there was provision for fines to be paid at a later date or to be contested in court.
Police hit back, telling the judge to stop interfering with their operations.
Subsequently, a citizen — Mr Andrew Makunura — filed a Constitutional Court application seeking an order compelling police to stop demanding fines at roadblocks. The matter is yet to be heard.
Responding to the findings by the Auditor-General, the ZRP admitted inconsistencies in its conduct.
“Officers or members-in-charge of the stations concerned have been advised to ensure that members carry sufficient road block equipment including the deposit fines schedules.
“Traffic fines charged by police do not exceed US$20. In practice they (officers) forget to carry such books and this results in inconsistent amounts being charged for the same offence.
“It is regretted to indicate that such stations could not distinguish between internal audits conducted by Police General Headquarters or Home Affairs Ministry and that of the Auditor-General.”