Lawyer, ZimRights Challenge Massive Hike In Deposit Fines

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

A HARARE lawyer and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) have filed an urgent chamber application through the High Court seeking an order to stop government from implementing or enforcing new deposit fines.

In an urgent chamber application filed by Tonderai Bhatasara of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, human rights lawyer Sheila Jarvis and ZimRights argued that government had erred by purporting to approve increases in deposit fines which police officers manning check points and roadblocks have already begun to demand.

The deposit fines took effect from Monday this week.

Jarvis and ZimRights said the enforcement of SI 25/2021 was a legal nullity and contravened their right to equality and non-discrimination as enshrined in section 56 of the Constitution.

They said given the massive increases in the fines compared to the income levels of the general populace, there was reasonable apprehension of irreparable harm that will be caused to many offenders who would fail to pay the increased fines.

They also contended that the law required the justice minister to get parliament’s approval before the new fines could be implemented.

The human rights lawyer and ZimRights stated that with no swipe machines or ticket-books at roadblocks, little cash available, with the obtaining economic challenges, there was a real risk the increased fines could cause more hardship and corruption.

They want the respondents’ subordinates and any other person acting under their control or on their behalf to be interdicted from implementing or enforcing the deposit fines purportedly authorised by SI 25 of 2021.

The respondents are Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe and Parliament.

They also want SI 25/2021 to be set aside and be declared unconstitutional as it contravened section 134(f) of the Constitution and section 280 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.