Almost all police stations now have functioning “swipe” machines for payment of admission of guilt fines, removing the need for cash payments and associated potential corruption.
Unlike previous and now discontinued swipe machines used by police, the present batches are issued by Judicial Service Commission (JSC) since the police are acting as agents of the judiciary when they collect deposit fines and have to account for the money.
So far this year, the JSC has distributed at least 333 of the Point of Sale (POS) machines to 319 police stations countrywide.
Those committing minor offences or offences where only a modest fine is likely to be imposed are frequently offered the option of admitting their guilt and paying a deposit fine, rather than going to court.
If they disagree with the charges or fine, they can reject the option and insist on their rights to a trial. Unfortunately, the lack of swipe machines at police stations meant that many had to find a cash agent to sell them banknotes.
JSC head of corporate communications Ms Rumbidzai Takawira said the machines will go a long way in improving the quality of justice delivery in line with the country’s shift to a cashless economy.
“Zimbabwe, like many countries across the world, has evolved into a more cashless economy and people now use what we term “plastic money,” she said.
“We have ensured all police points have a POS machine for easier transacting, moving from the system that we had before which was a bit slower. So, this is just in line with building efficiency for the transacting public when having to pay fines, like traffic fines.”
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said efforts were being made to enable people to pay fines using EcoCash, Telecash or OneMoney platforms.
“It is a fact that mobile cellular providers (EcoCash, OneMoney and Telecash) cannot be used by the public to pay deposit fines due to the setup of the machines unless if such service providers have supplied their client with a card they can use to swipe on the POS machine,” he said.
“The Judicial Service Commission is engaging banks to facilitate the use of mobile service platforms to accept deposit fines from the public. The ZRP and the Judicial Service Commission are in constant liaison to smoothen the process.
“Banks import the machines which are acquired by the Judicial Service Commission, which in turn provides them for use by the police.”
The latest batch of seven POS machines was collected from JSC head office in Harare on Tuesday.
Six were meant for the following Harare police stations: Highlands, Mabvuku, Avondale, Hatfield and Chikurubi, while one was for Gweru Traffic.
Harare province received 53 machines, while Mashonaland West and Bulawayo got 46 and 37 machines each respectively.
Midlands was allocated 39 machines, Mashonaland Central 34, Manicaland 35, Matabeleland South 26, Masvingo 24, Matabeleland North 14 and Mashonaland East 25.
The distribution of the swipe machines started in December last year and almost all police stations now have at least one, except Lusulu and Nyamandlovu police stations in Matabeleland North, where there is no network. Dorowa Police Station in Manicaland has a machine, but it is not functional due to network challenges. Motorists who spoke to The Herald hailed the development, saying more machines should be availed to ensure each roadblock has one.
“This is a welcome development,” said Mr Tinashe Gundani from Chitungwiza. “We have been facing difficulties in paying for our road traffic fines because officers manning roadblocks were demanding cash. Most of the times we would end up buying cash from illegal money dealers in order to be able to pay fines. We hope more of the machines will be allocated to traffic officers at roadblocks because this is where they are needed most.”
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