BULAWAYO High Court judge Justice Andrew Mutema yesterday said it was illegal for police to impound the vehicle without giving Mguni an option to pay the fine at a later date.
Mguni filed an urgent chamber application challenging the legality of having the car impounded, simply because he had no cash on him to pay a fine.
|Mguni filed an urgent chamber application challenging the legality of having the car impounded, simply because he had no cash on him to pay a fine.|
Justice Mutema declared the police action unlawfully and ordered them to release the car as soon Mguni produced its registration book.
Mguni told the court he was driving the car, which belongs to Thembile Moyo, along 6th Avenue in the Bulawayo central business district when he was stopped at a roadblock by a police officer, who advised him that his third number plate was tampered with and for that reason he should pay a $20 fine.
He said the police demanded an additional $20 for an alleged missing rear number plate light and a further $10 for alleged missing front reflectors.
He said the police refused to let him exercise his lawful option to be issued with a ticket so that he could pay the fine later as he had no money on him.
Mguni said the police officers impounded the car and said they would not release it until he paid the fine, despite his efforts to explain he had just collected it from a panel beater as it had recently been involved in an accident, hence the anomalies the police found on it.
He said a police officer scribbled a message on a dirty piece of paper indicating he had to pay to get the vehicle back, after he asked what he was being charged with.
Mguni said when his lawyer accompanied him to the police station to point out the police action was illegal, they were turned away.
He said he was left without an option but to approach the court for recourse.
High Court judge justice Francis Bere at the Masvingo High Court Circuit, sparked debate when he said there was no law that compelled a motorist to pay a spot fine or empowered the police to impound vehicles. Police boss Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said the judge was expressing his personal opinion and urged motorists to continue paying spot fines.
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