POLICE ROADBLOCKS: HELP FOR TRAVELLERS
(With acknowledgements to Margaret Kriel's Morning Mirror Radio Programme, ZBC)
Here are a few pointers to assist travellers to the Zambezi region with Police roadblocks in Zimbabwe.
Note the difference between types of roadblocks you will encounter:
MARKED ROAD BLOCKS
Marked Roadblocks have a sign on the left side of the road that reads POLICE AHEAD, this is usually placed 200m on either side of the road block. These road blocks are properly put together, black and white drums, plastic dollies on the road, and often there will be a blue light displayed flashing if it is at night.
These road blocks are usually manned by a mixture of Police Units, Metal and Minerals, Narcotics, Vehicle Theft Section, Homicide, Military Police and Traffic Section. You will be asked to produce your driver's licence. Depending what they are looking for, you may also be asked to open the boot of your car so that they can check.
If it is night time and you are a lady driving alone, you do not have to get out of your vehicle if the roadblock is manned by all male Police Officers. If there is a Lady Officer present you may request that she be present so that you can get out and open the boot or bonnet for them to check.
If it is VTS (Vehicle Theft Section) you may be asked to open the bonnet so that they can check engine and chassis numbers. They will be looking for stolen vehicles. Homicide Section is looking for armed robbers and unlicensed firearms. Military Police are there to check any military vehicles.
There have been few bad reports about these road blocks. They are carried out properly and the Police Officers manning them are usually friendly and polite. These road blocks are protected by members from the Support Unit, therefore if someone tries to "run" or "jump" this type of roadblock, the Support Unit are positioned ahead, are armed with automatic weapons, and will fire at you and arrest you.
UNMARKED ROAD BLOCKS
These are solely Traffic Police. Always be polite, and follow instruction or request of the Traffic Officer.
Ensure that you have your driver's licence with you. If you fail to produce it, you will be given a Form 265 which is a ticket. It is not a fine, it merely indicates that you have 7 working days to produce your driver's licence to the nearest Police Station where the ticket will then be stamped and you are free to go. If they do not have the Form 265 you may be issued with a Z69J which is the Admission of Guilt Form. The Admission of Guilt will be cancelled by the Traffic Officer and he will write over it stating you have 7 working days to produce your driver's licence at a Police Station - but there is no fine for not having the driver's licence on your person.
Often the Traffic Department does not have the Form 265, which is the ticket book. You may therefore be asked to pay a spot fine. When paying a spot fine you will then be asked to sign a Z69J which is an Admission of Guilt for the traffic offence. If you are told you have to go to court, you will be issued with a document instructing you which court to appear in and what the offence is. Arrests are not common, unless you commit a serious offence.
Please note that there are several Levels of Traffic Offence Fines, they are as follows:-
Fine: US$5-00 - this is for petty things i.e not wearing a safety belt, having no windscreen wipers etc.and in most cases you should be informed and educated by the Officer on Duty. If you are not wearing a seat belt due to medical reasons or an injury ask your Doctor to give you a letter stating the reason, and keep it in the car.
Fine: US$10-00 - slightly more serious e.g. failing to carry red triangles; driving over the white line; illegible registration or number plates; no front registration numbers; failing to obey turning arrows; over-loading; using threatening language; obstructing passages, streets, pavements or sidewalks.
Fine: US$15-00 - failure to register a car; failure to obey instructions from a policeman in uniform controlling traffic.
Fine: US$20-00 - vehicle safety features i.e. bald tyres, faulty windscreen wipers, no headlights; no reflectors (10cm - wide red stripes on back; 5cm white rounds or squares on front. These can be obtained from garages or vehicle accessory shops); producing identity documents belonging to someone else; driving with a learner's licence, but no supervision; driving into an intersection when exit is not clear.
Speeding: you will be fined between US$5 and US$20 for exceeding the speed limit by 1km/h - 50 km/h. If you exceed the speed limit by more than 50 km/h, you will go to court.
Court : dangerous traffic offences: Going through a red light. (You are required by law to stop at a red traffic light at night; the only time you can go through is if there is an immediate threat like an attempted hijacking.); Driving without having a driver's licence (i.e. without having passed your test); Defrauding the Government by not having your vehicle licensed; Exceeding the speed limits by more than 50km/h.
Arrests : you will be arrested for hit and run, driving while drunk, or for misconduct or improper behaviour
Please make yourself familiar with the information above so that you know what your legal position is and can stand your ground if necessary. If the Traffic Officers are awkward or rude towards you please make a note of the time and the exact location of this unmarked road block, also insist on seeing his/her Police ID and write down their names and force numbers so that you can then report your query to the Traffic Police Press and Public Relations Office at the numbers given earlier.
If the Traffic Officers are threatening to arrest you or are requesting you leave your vehicle and board one of their vehicles so that you can be taken to court, call one of the following Police Public Relations officers for assistance. However, please do not abuse these numbers, they have been given in good faith.
Superintendent NCUBE: +263 772 719730 or +263 712 769768
Superintendent KANGWARE: +263 712 415491
Spokesperson Traffic - Inspector Chigome: +263 772 965 030 or +263 4 799269 Ext 124
24 HOUR National Complaints Line: +263 4 703 631