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Grounds to challenge random search by police in Tanzania. By Johnson Yesaya.


A missing of report was filed for an abducted child. The child’s mother was f frantic and just happened to be friends with the chief of police in her town. Moved by the mother’s grief after attempts to locate her daughter failed, the Chief decided it was time to get serious. He ordered roadblocks set up at every major path out of town, and instructed the officers to conduct “random stops” of vehicles as they passed by the roadblock. He sent about 20 officers to each roadblock. A young man by the name Matatizo was driving through and was stopped along with about 20 other cars. An officer asked him to step outside of the vehicle and asked for his license and registration. As the young man handed his information over, he noticed that the officers had dogs sniffing around each of the stopped vehicles. The officer checked out the inside of the car by shining his flashlight into the interior. He further checked the eyes and breath of Matatizo. The officer found no indication that the girl was in the car, and the dog did not alert, so Matatizo was told go.

Irritated by the police actions Matatizo wishes to bring an action towards the police actions of continued random searches.

As a constitutional law lawyer advise Mr. Matatizo on the grounds of successfully challenging the search.


Enforcement of laws in United Republic of Tanzania is under control of various laws which provide procedures on dealing with various legal wrongs. A police officer, or any other person who has been given authority to enforce laws, must act in a reasonable manner according to the provisions of the laws, and he must act in a standard which do not amount to the commission of other offences. As far as the scenario of this question is concerned, The Criminal Procedure Act , The Road Traffic Act , and Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania  will be frame work to challenge random search and road closure done by police officers.

As a constitutional lawyer, I advise Mr Matatizo to file a civil suit against the following co-defendants, Regional Police Chief, Inspector General of Police and Attorney General. Let assume all requirements for instituting suits against the government has been accomplished.


Random search and road closure contravened article 15 (1), (2) (a) and (b) of Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania  which is “A right to personal freedom”. Our constitution clearly provide that, every person has the right to freedom and to live as a free person and no person shall be subjected to arrest, detention, imprisonment or any other act or omission which interfere right of personal freedom. The police officers detained Mr Matatizo without satisfying themselves that, they had reasonable ground to believe that matatizo was a suspect of a crime committed.

Section 42(3) of Criminal Procedure Act , an element to conduct search by an officer is “reasonable ground” to believe the vehicle or vessel is carrying an offensive object, goods or things, or such vessel or vehicle is connected to a committed offence. A random search, which lack minimum standard to suspect a person as involved in a crime contravene Article 15 of constitution of Tanzania. An act done by police officers was not only un-professional, but illegal.

Random search and road closure contravened article 17 (1), (2) (a) and (b) of Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania  which is “A right to freedom of movement”. Constitution provides that, people in Tanzania have freedom of movement and they are not to be forceful compelled to move or stay anywhere unless they wish. Mr Matatizo was illegally held for a long time which amount to breach of the above provision of the law.

Abuse of office, is an act of using one's position of power in an abusive way. This can take many forms, such as taking advantage of someone, gaining access to information that shouldn't be accessible to the public, or just manipulating someone with the ability to punish them if they don't comply.

Section 96(1), (2) and (3) of Penal Code , prohibit abuse of office. An order to close roads and random search was un-reasonable and un-necessary. An event was not that much serious to close roads and to conduct random search, also, a public office cannot be used in private personal businesses of officers. An officer influenced by a woman to give unlawful order.

Criminal Procedure Act, Cap 20 R:E 2002
The Road Traffic Act, Cap 168 R:E 2009
Penal Code, Cap 16 R:E 2002
Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania of 1977, Cap 2 as amended

Othman H. et. Al. Tanzania: Democracy in Transition. Dar es salaam University Press, 1990
Sherrif, A and Ferguson, E. (Eds) Zanzibar Under Colonial Rule, London, 1991.


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