Courts and Law

Police can use spikes, High Court rules

High Court Judge, Justice Owen Tagu has ruled that strips of spikes used by police to stop vehicles refusing to obey stop orders, are fully legal.

Justice Tagu has also ruled that any court trying to ban them would be tantamount to legalising crime and disempowering police from maintaining law and order.

The judgement follows a lawsuit by Passengers Association of Zimbabwe 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 this conduct endangered the lives of the public and causes blatant unlawful and malicious damage to private property police are supposed to protect.

However, spikes are seen as an effective way of halting a vehicle whose driver refuses to stop when ordered to, and a way of halting a vehicle using minimum force.

Police introduced spikes to replace the use of firearms, which could cause unintended injury or death, The Herald reports.

The court accepted the police argument that operators of pirate taxis, commonly known as mushikashika, were not just committing traffic offences but other crimes that could be classified as more dangerous.

Some of the crimes include drug abuse, harassment of commuters especially women, and theft and robberies committed by people in the unregistered vehicles, which are mostly driven by immature and unlicensed drivers.

Police 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.

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.

In 2017, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association director Okay Machisa filed an application at the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the practice, which he said had the potential of damaging property, injuring or killing people.

The challenge was filed at a time when the issue was a subject for debate at all levels.

Recently, a heated debate arose in Parliament over the use of deflating devices by the police with most legislators slamming the police.

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