Policing amber

5 04 2012

The local police are on a money-making drive. They especially like hanging around traffic lights, called robots in this country, catching drivers running the lights. That in itself is not a big deal except they are looking for drivers going through amber lights – which is not illegal! Then they use a tactic of intimidation and the public’s lack of legal knowledge and a reluctance to go to court to issue a spot, i.e. on-the-spot*, fine of $20.

I was caught recently and even if I wanted to I could not have stopped in time for the light change – it would have left me smack in the middle of the intersection. The police were uninterested in discussing the issue and I realised arguing that an amber light was there to warn one of the impending change to red when of course one MUST stop was pointless. I did realise too late that their procedure was unusual. I was asked for my driver’s licence and then if I had $20 to pay the fine. They waited while I found the money before writing anything on the Admission of Guilt form.If it really was an offence to run an amber light why not just make out the fine form there and then?

I spent the rest of the day fuming and mentioned the incident to Gordon whilst paying my rent on the way home. He said “I refused and took it to court. I defended myself and won the case. It only cost me my time”. It does say very clearly on the top of the form that one has the right to be heard in court (see the highlighting in the image below) but I am sure that the vast majority of drivers know that paying $20 is much less hassle than having to go to court so the police take advantage of this. So next time I am not letting them get away with this!

*The spot fine system is under review as in the past one could pay within a certain time period at any police station. This would also presumably give the defendant time to research the legality of the “infringement”.

Admission of Guilt form. The highlighting is mine.

The art of intimidation

17 06 2008

The ZANU-PF “meeting” I mentioned in the last post was real enough – it was still going on when I went home at 5 in the evening. I was not tempted to stop off and catch up but I did quiz my maid in the morning. It was all the usual fare; we will kill anyone who votes for the opposition and a weapon was brandished for good effect. Why it took five and a half hours to get the message across also speaks volumes. They are lying of course as they cannot know who votes for whom or where they will poll but the effect was there as now most people will not vote at all.

When the farm invasions were on numerous friends and acquaintances got death threats. They were probably bogus but can one afford not to take them seriously? The intimidators last week were dealing with a less sophisticated audience but the principle was the same; keep them guessing and they will err on the side of caution. ┬áThe art lies in just taking it to the line of credibility. I actually don’t think the outcome will be much influenced anyway. There is only one result that I can see – the ruling party has not come this far just to give in quietly and accept a result that they don’t want.

I see it this way:

  1. Mugabe wins outright.
  2. They rig the results to win.
  3. They lose and ignore the results.

1,681,835,527,909.52 – that’s the closing balance on my corporate account yesterday. I have never I think been so wealthy or poor at the same time. As to why they have kept the cents is beyond me; I am now rounding all my invoices UP eight digits LEFT of the decimal and busy modifying my software to cope with real money. Hey, I mean, I actually took in USD25.00 in sales last week!

I hear more and more that people are just offering to pay in real money as the hassle of getting anything with Zimbabwe dollars escalates almost as fast as the inflation. I make a point not to solicit, though if I am stung it probably won’t make a lot of difference (it is still illegal to accept foreign currency as payment). I wait for the customer to offer.