Police harass revellers

People in Harare are complaining that they are being harassed and tormented by the police who arrest them for public drinking and loitering and force them to pay fines.

According to the laws an accused person is entitled to be advised of his or her crime and the stipulated fines they should pay once arrested, but at Highlands Police Station recently this reporter witnessed police officers refusing the accused persons their right to see the legal schedule of fines.

They were threatened with being locked up until the next day if they insisted on demanding to see the schedules. “You have no right to question what we do. You are accused persons, period. It is our duty to lock you up if you do not want to pay the $20 or wait for Tuesday to go to court and defend your cases,” shouted one police officer, who also threatened to beat up the accused persons.

A police constable identified as Bunya said he had no such schedule the accused were demanding to see. “It is up to you guys, if you feel like not paying the $20 you know what it means. I am saying that I do not have that fine schedule with me. It is locked in the administration room which will be opened after the holidays,” he said arrogantly.

A police officer in charge, one Assistant Inspector Masawa, said the accused were free to challenge the fines at the courts of law. “These fines can be reversed if you are not satisfied because from here they go to the Ministry of Justice and if you have queries you can always be reimbursed your money,” he said, who also refused to show the schedule.

“We are not refusing to pay the fines. We are demanding to see where it is written that we should pay $20 for alleged public drinking,” said some of the accused. “Some of us were just picked at Eastlea shopping centre where we were relaxing by our cars. We were not even drinking beer as these police officers are alleging. We do not know if standing or parking near a beer selling outlet is an offence,” said two gentlemen who had paid the forced $20 fine. Similar incidents occurred at Mereki in Warren Park, Machipisa and Zindoga shopping centre.

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Post published in: Human Rights

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