Mashudu Netsianda Senior Court Reporter
A Bulawayo High Court judge has ruled that the arrest and fining of three local women, for allegedly loitering for the purposes of prostitution, was illegal and ordered the police to refund them within two weeks.
Justice Nokuthula Moyo made the ruling following a court application by Lindiwe Moyo, Lingiwe Moyo and Renny Sithole citing the Minister of Home Affairs Ignatius Chombo, Police Commissioner-General Dr Augustine Chihuri, the officer-in-charge of Bulawayo Central Police Station, Inspector Loyiso Mpofu and one Constable Chipfira as respondents.
The three, through their lawyers, Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners, accused the police of violating their constitutional rights and detaining them unlawfully.
The trio was arrested on April 17, 2015 shortly after 5am while standing outside Golden Grill food outlet situated between Fort Street and 10th Avenue .
They denied any wrongdoing, saying they were forced to pay admission of guilt fines.
“The arrest of the applicants on April 17, 2015 is hereby declared illegal and their subsequent payment of admission of guilt fines is declared invalid and they are therefore entitled to a refund for the money paid as fines,” ruled Justice Moyo. The judge also ordered Inspector Mpofu and his subordinate, Constable Chipfira to pay the legal costs.
The three women, in their application sought an order compelling the respondents to refund each of them the $5 admission fine.
In her founding affidavit, Lindiwe said the charge under which she and her colleagues were arrested on was invalid.
She argued that they were arrested for a non-existent crime of loitering for the purposes of prostitution, which was provided for under Section 4 of the Miscellaneous Causes Act that was repealed in 2006.
Under the new law, the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, there is no longer a crime called loitering for the purposes of prostitution.
Last year, the Constitutional Court ruled against the routine arrest of women on allegations of soliciting for paid sex in the streets.
The court said as long as there were no men who would confirm being approached by the women for the service the arrests were unconstitutional.
Lingiwe and Sithole in their High Court supporting affidavit, concurred with Lindiwe.
“I was standing outside Golden Grill in the company of Lingiwe while Renny was inside the shop when a uniformed police officer confronted us and said we were under arrest for loitering for the purposes of prostitution before demanding $3 from us,” said Lingiwe.
“When I demanded an explanation two other police officers emerged just when Renny was coming out of the shop and they handcuffed us.”