The Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) has approached the courts seeking an order to stop ongoing police arrests and fines imposed on passengers found on board private vehicles.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Forum), PAZ filed an application for a declaratur on an urgent basis in the High Court on behalf of Passengers Association of Zimbabwe, Charles Nyoni and George Tsaurayi.
Police recently imposed $2000 fines on anyone who gets a lift on unregistered public transport vehicles commonly referred to as mushikashika and other transport that is not affiliated to public transporter Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco).
The urgent application is against the actions of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in carrying mass arrests of passengers who are found on board private vehicles.
Police have insisted that boarding unlicensed vehicles by passengers is illegal but however, the Forum holds that this is not the correct position of our law.
Speaking on the case, the Forum lawyer, Darlington Marange, said that “the Zimbabwean criminal law does not provide for an offence against a Passenger who boards a vehicle which is operating illegally”.
Marange went further to say that, “any irregularity with a vehicle in terms of its authority to operate attaches to the vehicle operator and not to a passenger”.
In a statement, the Forum noted that “passengers were being fined under Road Traffic regulations that provide for hitchhiking”.
The rights based NGO further argues that “hitchhiking has very specific elements which are not being met by the cases of the passengers being arrested”.
“The Forum holds that the actions of the Police are unlawful and therefore seek a declaratur on behalf of its clients to the effect that the operation by the Zimbabwe Republic Police must stop,” said the NGO.