Rights lawyers help motorist seek refund from Harare’s notorious City Parking

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By Staff Reporter

A HARARE motorist  is demanding a refund of an extortionate fine, which he was levied by City Parking, for an alleged traffic offence.

City Parking officials on Wednesday 8 March 2023 clamped Gladman Bandama’s Toyota Corolla after he had parked outside Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) offices in central Harare. He had paid for a parking ticket for the duration of one hour.

When Bandama emerged out of CVR offices after being away for One hour15 minutes, he found his vehicle clamped and a notice issued in terms of the Harare (Clamping and Tow Away) By-laws affixed on his vehicle.

Bandama offered to pay parking fees for a duration of an additional one hour but the City Parking marshal turned down his request and insisted that he should pay a fine amounting to US$132, which comprised of a prescribed penalty of US$50, clamp charge in the sum of US$65 and value-added tax of US$17.

The City Parking notice further stated that, if the fine was not paid in a period of two hours, Bandama’s vehicle would be impounded and towed away.

Bandama duly paid the US$132 fine to avoid further costs.

After the incident, he engaged Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who on Friday 10 March 2023, demanded that City Parking should reimburse his client the US$132 within 48 hours.

“Chinopfukutwa warned City Parking that, in the event that they do not comply with Bandama’s demand, he would institute legal proceedings against them as the company’s conduct in clamping the Harare motorist’s vehicle, receiving his fine and making him to pay for clamp charges is unlawful,” said ZLHR.

Chinopfukutwa argued that, in terms of section 4(4) of the Harare (Clamping and Tow Away) By laws, clamp charges are only chargeable when a vehicle has been moved to a secure compound.

He said there is no legal provision for payment of clamp charges when the vehicle has not been moved to a secure compound hence the payment of a fine amounting to US$65 by Bandama had no legal basis and was therefore unlawful.

The lawyer also argued that it was unlawful for City Parking to levy and receive fines and penalties on behalf of City of Harare as it does not have any legal authority to enforce traffic by-laws on behalf of the local authority.

Furthermore, Chinopfukutwa stated that in terms of section 4(2) as read with section 8 of the Municipal Traffic Laws Enforcement Act, Bandama permitted to pay the fine and not the two hours period specified in the City Parking notice to his client which, in all fairness is extortionate.