Home » Judicial » Zinwa Employees Sue Police

Two Zimbabwe National Water Authority workers are suing the police for infringement of civil rights after they were allegedly arrested over disconnection of water supplies to Chirundu Police Station two years ago. Jorum Mavhiza and Wilson Tapfuma filed a claim at the High Court seeking 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. At that time, Mavhiza and Tapfuma were based at Zinwa Chirundu.

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

The hearing of the suit has been set for May 19 before Justice Happias Zhou.

“The arrest was false and malicious in that whereon the two defendants (Insp Muwambwi and Const Bvokoto) had no reasonable cause to believe that the plaintiffs (Mavhizha and Tapfuma) had committed an offence which warranted arrest and detention in the eyes of the law,” said the pair’s lawyer Mr Jonas Dondo.

Mr Dondo said his clients wanted US$35 000 compensation for physical discomfort and anguish, and US$15 000 as damages for contumelia. Contumelia is a deliberately offensive act or something that has the effect of being deliberately disrespectful. The cops deny the allegations arguing that they were acting on reasonable suspicion when they made the arrests. They say Mavhiza and Tapfuma were arrested for removing a water meter at Chirundu Police in the middle of the night without notifying the relevant authorities.

“Investigations that were instituted by the police revealed that the water meter had been removed by the plaintiffs who are Zinwa employees,” reads part of the defence.

The two police say the Zinwa workers were released without charge after it was established that they had removed the water meter for non-payment of water bills.

“It cannot therefore be contended that the arrest in the circumstances was unlawful and wrongful. Neither can the time the plaintiffs spent in camp being interviewed be deemed to be unlawful detention,” they contend.

They also deny that Mavhiza and Tapfuma were kept in holding cells at any given time. The High Court ruled last week that disconnecting water supplies to force payment is unconstitutional.

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