Cops behind Manzini unrest
MBABANE – Traffic police have been accused of causing public unrest in Manzini following the protest action by public transport operators.
This after one of them was arrested and charged for allegedly violating traffic laws.
Boy Gwebu was arrested for deviating from an official route and overloading. He was taken to the Manzini Police Station where they formally charged him and he appeared before court for trial.
He was found guilty and subsequently sentenced to a E4 800 fine. Public transport workers reacted with violence and staged a protest in town, blocking traffic and burning tyres. The chaos lasted till 4:30pm when Gwebu was eventually released after his fine was paid by an anonymous person.
According to the officers, who requested that their identities not be revealed as they are not allowed to talk to the media the police cannot arrest someone like that.
"For a person to be served with summons and arrested, the police have to issue a notice of admission of guilt (AOG) otherwise known as a ‘ticket’, where the accused has to pay a fine in admission of guilt," they claimed.
"If that person fails to pay the fine, only then is he called to court to answer for his crimes. If the person does not show up in court, the court can issue summons of arrest of the accused.
"Administration of notices (tickets) must present the court date and admission of guilt fine for the offender to either pay the AOG or appear in court. Such notices do not include this in Swaziland," they said.
Police Public Relations officer Superintendent Wendy Hleta first wanted to know why the informant went to the media instead of pointing out the error to the relevant authorities which are the cops themselves in this matter.
"Ministries are supposed to work together with the police in such matters, if a government officer sees something happening in another government department that is against the law, that officer should show responsibility and enquire after such a matter from the relevant department," she said.
Hleta explained that in Gwebu’s matter the police didn’t break the law as they were doing their job by going after and arresting Gwebu as he committed a crime in front of them.
In earlier reports, Hleta had said Gwebu had committed other crimes other than deviating from his legal route and he had declined to pay the fine and thus the police had to take him to court where charges were pressed against him.
"People should understand that the police do not use only the Road Traffic Act (RTA) of 2007, we also use the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act (CPA) of 1938. We use both these Acts, so someone can’t just read the RTA and say we are making unlawful arrests," she explained.
She said the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act states clearly that if an offender refuses to pay a fine, police can arrest that person and bring him to court immediately.
"Section 29 (5) (a) of CPA stipulates that ‘if an offence is alleged to have been committed under the Traffic Act and a police officer or inspector is of the opinion that a public prosecutor will prosecute ...’, ‘a summons of intent to prosecute may be issued to the person concerned ...’. It is at this stage that a person may opt to liaise with the designated officer for invocation of Section 312 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act that allows payment of fine without appearance in court," she said.
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