Judge Orders Return Of Seized Driver's Licence

Wednesday, 01 March 2017  Radio VOP

HARARE - High Court Judge Esther Muremba on Wednesday issued an ultimatum ordering a local police officer to return a driver’s licence he had confiscated from a motorist two years ago in attempts to induce him to pay a spot fine for a traffic related offence.

Andrew Makunura, a registered general nurse with the National Blood Transfusion Services, had his driver’s licence seized by one Constable Agrippa Chinyama at a roadblock mounted by the police along High Glen road in Harare in February 2015.

He was taking his family to school and work.

Chinyama confiscated Makunura’s driver’s licence to force him to pay a $10 spot fine after he was found without displaying a valid radio listener’s licence, an offence which he did not dispute since it had expired.

Makunura advised Chinyama that he had no money on him and asked to be allowed to leave and drop his children at school and pay the fine later after giving the police his residential address as well as his work address.

But Chinyama turned down his offer and insisted that he paid the fine, forcing him to spend a full hour parked by the roadblock spot.

Together with his colleagues who were manning the roadblock, Chinyama later released him and asked him to return with the fine before lunchtime as a condition to the return of the document.

However, when Makunura made a follow up on his driver’s licence at Southerton police station where Makunura is stationed, the police officer denied ever taking it.

This compelled Makunura, who was represented by Tonderai Bhatasara, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, to issue summons in the High Court seeking an order compelling Chinyama to return his driver’s licence and also declaring that Chinyama’s demand for a spot fine from him violates his rights protected under Section 49, Section 66, Section 69, Section 71 and Section 86 of the Constitution.

In their plea, Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Chinyama, who were all listed as defendants by Makunura averred that the motorist retained his driver’s licence after producing it to the law enforcement agent and argued that none of the motorist’s constitutional rights were violated and his licence was not confiscated.

But Justice Muremba ruled that she was convinced that Chinyama had confiscated the driver’s licence to coerce him to pay the spot fine.

Justice Muremba ruled that by detaining Makunura for a lengthy period at the roadblock as he attended to other motorists, Chinyama violated the registered general nurse’s right to personal liberty as enshrined in Section 49 (1) (b) of the Constitution.

The High Court judge ruled that the deprivation of Makunura’s liberty by Chinyama caused him and his wife to report late for work while the motorist’s children also reported late for school too.

The detention of Makunura by Chinyama, Justice Muremba said, was arbitrary and without just cause.

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