Police urged to be cautious while arresting excess passengers in PSVs
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has urged Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to provide body cameras to officers assigned to traffic duties to assist in investigations in the case of road violations.
DPP Haji issued the directive following uproar about traffic charges being preferred against excess passengers traveling in Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) during the festive season.
According to a letter by the DPP to the police boss, Haji stated that caution must be exercised when arresting a passenger because the Traffic Act Cap states that, the driver, conductor and owner of a PSV that carries excess passengers are – upon conviction – liable to a fine not exceeding Sh20,000 and an additional Sh5,000 for each person in excess of the licensed capacity.
DPP Haji, in the letter to IG Mutyambai, however said excess passengers should first be requested to alight the vehicle and can only be arrested and charged if they decline to comply with the order of a police officer or of the owner, driver or conductor of the PSV.
LAW AND ORDER
“It will be in my view, difficult, to gather enough evidence to demonstrate that an excess passenger refused to comply with the order of a police officer or declined a request by the owner, conductor and/or driver not to enter the PSV. In most cases, it will be the word of the police officer against that of the passenger,” noted the DPP.
“Further, to assist in maintaining law and order on the road, to reduce police excesses, to assist in case of violations, to support investigations and to mitigate any possible corruption, it may be prudent to consider providing officers assigned traffic duties with body cameras.”
“Separately, note that prosecutors have been directed to exercise great caution while making the decision to charge. The same must meet the required evidential threshold test as well as the public interest test,” he also added.