Home » Legal and Judicial Affairs » Unlawful Arrests Cost ZRP – Zinwa Workers to Get U.S.$12 000 in Compensation

Police have been ordered to pay US$12 000 to two Zimbabwe National Water Authority workers who were unlawfully arrested and detained for disconnecting water supplies to Chirundu Police Station over non-payment of water bills.

Jorum Mavhiza and Wilson Tapfuma had claimed U$50 000 in damages for wrongful arrest and detention against officers only identified as Inspector Muwambwi and Constable Bvokoto, and Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi for the July 6, 2011 incident.

High Court judge Justice Happias Zhou, however, reduced the claim to US$12 000.

According to the ruling, the two would each get US$5 000 as compensation for physical discomfort and anguish and US$1 000 as damages for the offensive act committed on them.

Granting the claim by the two on Wednesday, Justice Zhou said Muwambwi and Bvokoto abused their powers in forcing the Zinwa employees to restore water supplies to the police station.

He dismissed the cops’ defence that they acted on reasonable suspicion when they made the arrests.

They also lied that Mavhiza and Tapfuma removed a water meter at Chirundu Police Station in the middle of the night without notifying the relevant authorities when, in fact, this was done during the day after several warnings for them to settle their water bill.

“In the results the judgment is granted in favour of the plaintiffs in the sum of US$12 000 with interest at the proscribed rate,” said Justice Zhou.

Police will pay the legal costs of the matter.

Mavhiza and Tapfuma were based at Zinwa Chirundu when the incident occurred.

They were arrested and taken to Magunje Police Station where they allegedly spent more than nine hours before being released without being charged.

During the hearing the pair’s lawyer, Mr Jonas Dondo of Dondo and Partners, wanted US$35 000 compensation for physical discomfort and anguish and US$15 000 as damages for the offensive act committed on his clients.

The cops who were represented by the Prosecutor-General’s Office, denied the allegations arguing that they were acting on reasonable suspicion when they made the arrests.

They said Mavhiza and Tapfuma were arrested for removing a water meter at Chirundu Police Station in the middle of the night without notifying the relevant authorities.

They also deny that Mavhiza and Tapfuma were kept in holding cells at any given time.

Section 8 of Water By-law Statutory Instrument 164 of 1913 empowers local authorities to cut off water supplies arbitrarily in the absence of a court order.

However, Section 77 of the Constitution provides access to water and food as basic rights. All laws must conform to the Constitution.

Source : The Herald

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