Daniel Nemukuyu: Senior Court Reporter
A group of 12 indigenous businesspeople who were rounded up during the violent demonstrations that hit Harare’s central business district in August last year have slapped the police with a combined $645 000 suit for unlawful detention and assault.The dozen — seven women and five men — accuse the police of unlawful detention, assault and various other forms of ill-treatment and violation of human rights.
They were all arrested on August 24 last year along Nelson Mandela Avenue at Roslin House where they conduct their businesses. Some of the seven women claim they were harassed to the extent of menstruating outside of their cycles.
The five men are claiming $45 000 each, broken down as follows: $10 000 for unlawful arrest, $10 000 for unlawful detention, $10 000 for assault, $10 000 for pain and suffering and $5 000 for contumelia.
The female plaintiffs are claiming $60 000 each. They want $10 000 for unlawful arrest, $10 000 for unlawful detention, $10 000 for assault, $15 000 for pain, shock and suffering and another $15 000 for contumelia.
On August 24, officers attached to the Police Reaction Group were deployed in the city centre to maintain peace and order during the demonstrations that had become rampant.
They allegedly rounded up tenants at Roslin House in the city and gathered them outside the building before bundling them into the back of a police truck.
The 12 argued that they were unlawfully arrested without any warrant and they were subjected to assault and harassment while in the police vehicle.
It is alleged that the group was taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were detained for four hours. They argued in their summons that they were denied access to medication and ablution facilities.
Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, and other top police officers who were all cited as respondents are yet to react to the lawsuit.