Newly appointed Prosecutor-General Advocate Ray Goba has blasted Harare City Council for failing to ensure orderliness in the city and called for the setting up of specialised municipal courts to deal with petty offenders.
Adv Goba slammed council for allowing an influx of street vendors and pirate taxis that have turned the central business district into a jungle.
In an interview yesterday, Adv Goba said there was chaos in the streets of Harare, with vendors left to sell vegetables or roast mealies for sale right in the CBD.
Others place unpaid-for advertising posters on trees.
Burning of grass and urban cultivation, according to the PG, were also offences but the municipalities were turning a blind eye to these transgressions.
Adv Goba said failure by council to rid the city of these illegal activities made people believe they were actually lawful.
He said the situation was bad and councils needed to scale up their policing and ensure 24-hour patrols to restore order. Penalties should also be increased for the offences, especially for repeat offenders.
"There is no sustainable law enforcement on the streets of Harare and other large cities.
"There is a lot burning all over in urban areas. Cultivation in the cities is slowly becoming a 'legal right' when in fact it is an offence in terms of the law," said Adv Goba.
"People roast mealies right in the CBD. Driving around town, all trees are pierced with nails for the purposes of placing posters advertising individual businesses. If council police were serious and keen on restoring order, the advertisers who damage trees would have been easily apprehended. They even place their phone numbers and addresses on the posters," he said. "Even prophets and traditional healers commit the same offences when marketing their services," he said.
"One person can have 10 posters on different trees around the city advertising his plumbing or tiling business. For each tree, council can fine the person something like $20 for deterrence."
Adv Goba proposed the establishment of a vibrant city police with arresting powers.
"We have witnessed municipal police rounding up vendors or Mushika-shika crews (pirate taxis) and a few minutes later, the offenders are back on the streets. There is need for the establishment of municipal courts that deal with such breaches. That does not justify obedience to law. Some illegal transport operators conduct their businesses in the evening when the city police would have knocked off," he said.
He urged council police to go by the book and be tough on offenders to restore order.
"Municipal police are simply not enforcing the law. Nothing has changed to our laws. All laws should be enforced without fear or favour to arrest the disorder that has dogged the cities," said Adv Goba.
"Fingerprinting of offenders is another way of ensuring repeat offenders are punished severely for deterrence," he said.