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Criminal Law Amendment (Protection of Power, Communications and Water Infrastructure) Bill, 2010
Parliament of Zimbabwe
June 04, 2010

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There is a prevalence of crimes prejudicing the vital economic interests of Zimbabwe, not least among them the vandalisation and theft of equipment, apparatus and material essential to the provision of electricity, telecommunication, broadcasting and railway services.

With a view to combating the degradation of our communications and power infrastructure caused by such activities, this Bill seeks to amend the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07], the Postal and Telecommunications Act [Chapter 12:05] (No. 4 of 2000), the Broadcasting Services Act [Chapter 12:06] (No. 3 of 2001), Railways Act [Chapter 13:09] and the Electricity Act [Chapter 13:19] (No. 4 of 2002) and the Water Act [Chapter 20:24]. In more detail, the individual sections of the Bill provide as follows:

Part I

Clause 1

This clause sets out the Bill’s short title.

Clause 2

This clause seeks to amend the Fifth and Ninth Schedules to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

This Fifth Schedule forbids a police officer of whatever rank to grant bail to accused persons for certain specified offences. The purpose of this amendment is to specify the additional offences referred to in the Ninth Schedule as amended by this Bill.

The Ninth Schedule specifies offences which constitute “serious economic crimes”, in connection with which the Attorney-General may authorise the pre-trial detention of offenders for up to 21 days without possibility of bail. The amendment sought by paragraph (b) of this clause will add to the list of offences there mentioned certain of the offences created by this Bill in relation to Postal and Telecommunications Act, the Broadcasting Services Act, the Railways Act, the Electricity Act and the Water Act.

Clause 3

This clause seeks to amend the Postal and Telecommunications Act in several respects.

Firstly, it proposes to replace section 89 (creating offences in connection with wilful damage to or interference with telecommunication lines) of the Act by a more comprehensive and deterrent penal provision to bring it into line with similar offences in the Electricity and Railways Acts. The latter offences impose mandatory prison terms for wilful damage to and theft of material essential to the functioning of electricity and railway infrastructure.

Secondly, a new special power of citizen’s arrest of persons engaged in wilfully damaging or interfering with telecommunication lines is included in the new section 89A. This is similar to the power already contained in section 39 of the Railways Act.

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