IGNORANTIA juris neminem excusat is Latin for Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Due to lack of knowledge, many Zimbabweans are fleeced their hard earned money on a daily basis by unscrupulous police officers closely dotted across the country’s roads leading to the public outcry.
These corrupt police officials are seen demanding spot fines forcing the public to pay them after admission of guilt. Little does the driving public know that these police are supposed to produce the Schedule of Deposit Fines which was issued in 2016.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Despite the spot fines being outlawed by Government, the insatiable appetite for them which has become like a cash cow for the police has not only Zimbabwean drivers but tourists suffer the brunt of the ravenous traffic police.
Road Rules Founder and CEO Tawanda Chikosi exclusively told TechnoMag that they were given the green light to incorporate the traffic spot fines by ZRP Commissioner General Dr Augustine Chihuri.
“What we then did is…I wrote to the ZRP Commissioner General seeking permission to integrate the traffic fine schedules and the violations within our mobile application and he wrote back to us giving us the nod as it was public information. He directed us to the Government Printers where we found and compiled the Acts. So that is what we eventually did,” he said.
“The thing is the members of the public don’t know the appropriate and legal fine fine for a specific traffic violation.
“So this is where we come in with the Road Rules app, we have integrated these traffic fines along with the schedules of deposit fines in cases that should you admit to a traffic violation you then pay a specific amount of money as fine stipulated in the ZRP 2016 Schedule of Deposit Fines. So that is what we eventually did.
“We then compiled the information. Not only did we put the traffic fine violation, we also then detailed the statutory instrument that the motorist would have violated to attract the fine,” he said.
He also noted that while this feature empowers the public with knowledge about the traffic spot fines, it tries to exonerate the police from the public’s ignorance.
“So its just there pretty much to protect the public from being overcharged out of ignorance. And also its there to protect the reputation of the police because a lot of members will be saying the police overcharge us yet in actual fact maybe they are being charged the correct fines. So the standing orders of the police while on traffic duty is that they should carry the schedule of deposit fines with them at all times, as well as the relevant pieces of law to their exercise.
“So if a police officer fines you $20 you can quiz them if it tallies with what is on the Schedule of Deposit Fines. So the police have these but members of the public don’t. So this is an empowerment tool for motorists in cases where they are charged $20 for absence of a fire extinguisher, they can refer to the Road Rules App for accuracy to see if the fine fits the crime.
“Where there are discrepancies between our Road Rules App and the Police then the motorist is mandated to insist to seeing the schedule from the officer,” he said.
Added Chikosi, “So basically this is direction we coming from after realising members of the public are not empowered enough inasmuch as the traffic spot fines are concerned. We felt the need to create a tool using technology to solve the problems people face. With us being an innovative company working in the space of road safety and traffic safety we felt it’s a natural trajectory for us to incorporate the traffic fines and the schedules,” he said.
“Not only are we looking at putting traffic fines information, we are also looking at incorporating emergency service numbers needed by motorists. So for instance if you need towing services, you should be able to go into the application and look up for various towing service providers and get a service.
“You should also be able to contact the police as we have integrated all their district contact details. Lets say Chitungwiza has five or six Police stations you can contact any on the application for your convenience. This feature is embedded in the app to make it more comprehensive,” said Chikosi.
With all these features entrenched onto the application, Road Rules is the total package that still costs a measly $2 for the whole year. This gives aspiring drivers and the motoring public a great value for their money.
“These features are for those for those already driving. Then if you are an aspiring driver looking to write a provisional license that’s you have to practice the road rules. When you are done we are compiling a list of the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe compliant driving schools which you can go for driving lessons based on your location. We have made our app more comprehensible by adding these features to fully equip one intending to write a provisional license test all the way up to the traffic fines,” said the Road Rules boss.
As if this is not enough, the application developers also added a new feature in the learner’s section which explains the answers for questions asked while practising to write a Provisional Driver’s License Test.
The new version launched on Wednesday has over 100 downloads but cumulatively the application fetches over 27 000.