A High Court judge has ruled that banning the use of spikes by traffic police to stop vehicles refusing to obey orders to halt would be as good as legalising crime and disempowering police from maintaining law and order.
The ruling was made by Justice Owen Tagu following an application by the Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ), who were seeking an interdict prohibiting officers from using the strips of spikes and smashing windscreens of private taxis to halt pirate taxis and kombis.
PAZ argued that the conduct by the police endangered the lives of the public and cause blatant unlawful and malicious damage to private property that police are supposed to protect.
Through its legal counsel, PAZ argued that police should be barred from practising this “rudimentary” and “barbaric” way of enforcing traffic offence law.
However, the court accepted the police argument that operators of pirate taxis were not just committing traffic offences only but other crimes that could be classified as more dangerous.
The police said some of the crimes committed by Mushikashika crews include drug abuse, harassment of commuters especially women, and theft and robberies.
Some of the vehicles used as pirate taxis are unregistered and mostly driven by immature and unlicensed drivers, police argued.
The ZRP also argued that the conduct of the pirate taxis had resulted in a spike of pedestrian deaths as they are run over by vehicles fleeing police officers.
The police further argued that touts employed by errant drivers, assault and kill police officers when they try to impound their vehicles and arrest the violators.
It was on this basis that Justice Tagu refused to grant the application by PAZ. He said:
To grant the application would be tantamount to legalising the actions of these errant motorists as the police would be incapacitated to deal with them.