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ELEVEN more police constables convicted of misconduct under the Police Act, have approached the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the retraining exercise introduced by the police recently.

Last week, the police were ordered to release six others who won their case before the same court but decided to keep several other officers who were in similar circumstances in “detention”.

The 11’s application brings to 17 the total number of constables who have challenged the rigorous retraining exercise that was described as torture by lawyers.

Police only released the six who succeeded in their application but the others who fell under the same category remained at Morris Depot because they were not part of the six’s court proceedings. The 11 constables are suing their superiors for inhuman and degrading treatment while undergoing “retraining.” They are challenging the retraining they are required to do at Morris Depot in Harare, claiming that it amounted to torture and unlawful detention.

Harare lawyer Mr Norman Mugiya deposed an affidavit on behalf of the 11 after he was denied permission to get the applicants to sign their own affidavits.

Mr Mugiya indicated that the 11 were convicted for various offences under the Police Act and have since completed their prison terms at Chikurubi detention barracks.

Police through circular Number 242014 introduced a retraining course that should be undergone by all convicts in addition to the sentence. It is the 11’s argument that the exercise denied them basic rights and was unconstitutional. They contend that the said retraining was being conducted in a manner that can easily be described as further punishment or torture. It is the police officers’ contention that they were being barred from contacting the outside world and they were being denied conjugal rights with their spouses among other rights.

It is the group’s argument that the trainers were now tormenting them since the time they engaged a lawyer to represent them.

They are being denied food, clothes and at times water, the court heard.

Law officer Mr Timon Tabana defended the position of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the matter.

He submitted that the 11 finished serving their sentences at the detention barracks and were now undergoing re-training for a minimum of six weeks up to a maximum of three months.

He argued that the five were being retrained in terms of a circular which introduced re-training after a needs analysis was undertaken.

The introduction of policy directions by way of the circular, Mr Tabana argued, was permissible and remained within the province of the police command.

Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, in his opposing affidavit, dismissed as false claims that the lawyer was denied access to the 11 officers.

He urged the court not to interfere with the operations of the police and to promote the separation of powers as provided for in the Constitution.

Source : The Herald