A Critical Analysis of S.309 of the Panel Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia: The Obtaining of Goods or Pecunary advantage by False Pretences.The Reality and efficacy of the said provision in Zambia
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For a long time now, s.309 of the Penal Code has been subject to abuse by both the police and members of the public who use it to recover goods or money from debtors. They use this provision on the basis that an accused has procured goods from a complainant by false pretences when in fact the subject matter of the complaint is money borrowed or goods obtained on credit which entails that s.309 ought not to apply. This state of affairs has been perpetrated by way of compromising law enforcement officers, that is to say the police, who usually get a percentage from the complainant upon recovery of the debt or money. In this endeavour, the police will usually detain persons falsely accused of this offence in a bid to expedite the repayment of money borrowed or pay for goods obtained on credit. This is against the purpose for which the police was created, that is, to protect property and enforce the law impartially and in the process safeguard the interests of individuals in the wider society. The aim of this paper therefore is to examine the reasons why the police abuse this provision and why it is so easy for them to abuse the provision without the officers facing any recriminations from either the courts or disciplinary measures from the police structure itself. The paper also aims to discuss how by detaining complainants on false reasons or tramped up charges, the police are in the process committing the civil and criminal offence of false imprisonment. Specific questions were tailored to gauge the conditions under which the police operate for example the low remuneration levels and conditions of service.
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