I have been to the Victoria Falls twice in 2015 and 2016 and had to pay a total of four fines for the most ridiculous and creative “offences” imaginable.
On my first visit, I had to cut the days I intended to camp in the Zambezi park short, in order to make provision in my budget for the fines I had to pay (about R1 000).
This meant that I had to make an unplanned border crossing into Botswana where I could afford to stay for two nights in Kasane, with better amenities, for the same price than one night in the park, to complete my holiday.
Leaving Zimbabwe, at that time, filled me with relief, disgust and a strong desire never to return.
I would like to illustrate my experience with a brief summary of some of the fines I got: A US$20 fine for slowly and safely crossing a railway line in Vic Falls without stopping at the BROKEN (we later videotaped / photographed this robot) robot. There were no visible STOP signs or any other road sign before the crossing. Local vehicles rushing over the line also did not suggest that a dead stop was required.
I, thus, got punished for a lack of maintenance on the infrastructure of the town!
(At peril of making tedious comparisons: In Botswana at any railway crossing, you will find a railway warning sign long in advance, a stop sign and a functioning robot). Ignoring THAT deserves a hefty fine!
While being issued my fine in Vic Falls, numerous local vehicles still crossed the railway line at speed without even slowing down. Pointing this out to the officer and mentioning that as a result of his actions, we would leave Zimbabwe for Botswana and not return again, had no effect on his resolve to hustle a foreigner out of dollars.
I later encountered a roadblock about a kilometre from the border post at Kazangula!
What is the “function” of this roadblock?
To keep the roads safe by fining people a kilometre before they exit your country??
It can only, logically, serve as final pay-before-you-go ticket, before the lucrative source of income “escapes” into Botswana.
My 10- year- old daughter, who was sleeping in the rear seat, was forced to exit the car to sign a $20 fine for not wearing a seat belt, whilst surrounded by a group of intimidating grown men!
The officer refused to allow me to sign the fine.
Again, what is the reasoning behind harassing a child?
Would any sensible parent want to expose their child to this again?
But I was lured back by my desire to visit the Falls again, against my better judgement and based on previous experience.
This time I did not take my family along, but a group of friends.
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