Wrongful arrest: Bulawayo police officers fight property seizures

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THREE Bulawayo based police officers have filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging a writ of execution against their properties.

In March this year, Bulawayo High Court Judge, Justice Martin Makonese ordered Inspector Felix Tandi, Detective Sergeant Brain Munyanyi, Constable Artwell Sibanda and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema to pay a South Africa based Zimbabwean man, Bongani Ncube US$ 5 000 compensation following his unlawful arrest and subsequent detention on false allegations of driving a stolen South African registered car.

Following Justice Makonese’s order, the three police officers were slapped with a writ of execution against their properties by the Deputy Sheriff.

It is not clear whether Mathema had also been served with the writ of execution against his property.

Through the Civil Division in the Attorney General’s Office, the police officers this week filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the writ of execution against their properties. The applicants cited Ncube and the Sheriff of the High Court as respondents.

In their court papers, the police officers argue that the order should not have been affected since they were not sued in their personal capacities.

“The applicants will suffer irreparable harm if the order is executed more, so under these circumstances where I have already been served with a notice of seizure and removal is imminent. It is therefore imperative for this court to intervene as a matter of urgency to stop the implementation of the writ of execution against our movable property under HC541/18,” argued one of the applicants in the court papers.

Justice Makonese ordered Mathema and the three officers to pay Ncube US$5 000 as quantum of damages including legal costs he incurred when filing the law suit.

Ncube was arrested by Sibanda, Tandi and Munyanyi while driving to Livingstone in 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.

Ncube through his lawyers, Banda, Nzirayapenga and Partners sued Mathema and the police officers for wrongful and unlawful deprivation of liberty.

In his judgment, 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 of recklessness 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,” ruled Justice Makonese.