Court orders minister, cops to pay motorist for wrongful arrest

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

A Bulawayo High Court judge on Tuesday ordered Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema and three police officers to pay a South Africa based Zimbabwean man US$5 000 compensation following his unlawful arrest and subsequent detention on false allegations of driving a stolen South African registered car.

Justice Martin Makonese ordered the minister and the police officers to pay Bongani Ncube US$5 000 as quantum of damages including the legal costs he incurred when filing the lawsuit.

Ncube was arrested by Constable Artwell Sibanda, Detective Assistant Inspector Felix Tandi and Detective Sergeant Brain Munyanyi while driving to Livingstone, Zambia.

The three police officers who were manning the exit gate at the Victoria Falls border post intercepted Ncube and accused him of driving a stolen car using fake vehicle registration papers.

“In the result, it is ordered that the defendants are ordered to pay damages in the sum of US$5 000 jointly and severally, the one paying the other to be absolved together with interest at the prescribed rate,” ruled the Judge.

Justice Makonese‘s ruling follows an application by Ncube through his lawyers, Dube-Banda, Nzirayapenga and Partners.

Ncube, who cited Mathema and the three police officers, sought to be compensated in damages for wrongful and unlawful deprivation of liberty by the defendants.

In his ruling, Justice Makonese said the arresting officer, Constable Sibanda was overzealous and acted irrationally without bothering to first verify the documents.

“The first defendant (Sibanda) acted irrationally and with haste. He failed to execute his duties diligently and as a result, recklessly came to a wrong conclusion of fact that the motor vehicle was suspected to have been stolen.

“In view of the fact that the plaintiff has been unnecessarily put out of pocket by defendants, he is entitled to a full recovery of his costs on the higher scale,” said Makose.

He also declared Ncube’s arrest and the subsequent impounding of his car was illegal.

The authenticity of the documents of the car which Ncube bought through hire purchase was verified through an email from his bank in South Africa where he is based.

The minister and the police officers were represented by the Civil Division in the Attorney General‘s Office.