A top Bulawayo policeman allegedly threatened a city lawyer with unspecified action if he continued representing two accused persons facing charges of robbing Cape to Cairo night club and shooting a police officer in the process.
Addressing a packed remand court on Monday at the Tredgold Courts, senior partner at James, Moyo-Majwabu and Nyoni Legal Practitioners- Joseph James, said he was “shocked and angry” that the police had decided to venture into “intimidatory tactics” to solve their case.
The court heard that the Officer in Charge of Homicide at the Bulawayo Central Police Station Steven Mpofu telephoned Lison Ncube, the lawyer representing Choga Njiva (30) on Tuesday last week several times asking for the “bloody clothes” that Njiva was wearing.
Ncube is said to have refused with the clothes on the grounds they were “essential evidence” that his client was severely assaulted while in police custody.
This raised the ire of the homicide police officer who instructed Ncube to stay in his office until a homicide squad came from Ross Camp Police Station to formally arrest him for refusing with evidence.
Ncube is said to have waited and no police came.
The following day, he sent the blood stained clothes to the police camp where again he was “subjected to further verbal threats from junior homicide cops and Mpofu,” the court heard.
“It is sad, shocking and negates justice that police have behaved this way.
Ncube is a duly registered lawyer with the Law Society of Zimbabwe and is entitled to represent his client without any problems in as much as his client is entitled in terms of Section 18 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to be represented by a lawyer and appear in Court in time without any undue harm,” James submitted.
Together with Ncube, James applied for Njiva’s removal from remand on the grounds the State had no prima facie case.
The State opposed the application but conceded the police were wrong to detain the accused person for more than 48 hours without bringing him to court.
The State also said the police were wrong if they tortured Njiva.
The magistrate ordered an inquest be held in camera to establish if Njiva was tortured.
At that point everyone in the gallery was ordered to vacate the court leaving only court officials.
According to sources who were within the courtroom at the time, it was found that Njiva had swollen feet and toes, bandaged toes, sores all over the body, swollen back and seven lacerations, stitched eye lid and he was said to have received 10 drips in two days at United Bulawayo Hospital.
Further the court heard that the homicide police had administered water boarding – an outlawed torture tactic that was used for extracting evidence from terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay Prison just outside the United States.
Njiva was remanded in custody to Thursday when a ruling on the application to remove him from remand will be made.
Njiva was arrested on September 29 in Tshabalala after allegedly robbing Cape to Cairo restaurant and allegedly fatally shooting Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chatikobo.