A Lupane villager, Bernard Sibanda, intends to sue Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri for alleged torture by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police following his arrest in November last year.
Sibanda (46) has since written to Chihuri and co-ministers of Home Affairs indicating his intention to sue for alleged torture. He is demanding
$1,5 million compensation.
His lawyer, Lizwe Jamela of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), confirmed the development yesterday.
“We act for and are instructed by Bernard Sibanda who was brutally assaulted at Gomoza police base in Lupane by the police with a sjambok, clenched fists and booted feet on his body,” reads part of the letter sent to Chihuri.
“He was further assaulted under his feet and ordered to do press-ups while shouting on top of his voice. He later sought medical attention due to injuries sustained.
“We are instructed to notify your offices that we shall be bringing a legal suit against your office, that of your parent ministry as well as the individual police officers,” reads the letter which was also copied to officer commanding police, Matabeleland North province, officer-in-charge Lupane and co-ministers of Home Affairs.
Jamela said Sibanda was arrested and tortured by the police on November 17 last year for allegedly threatening to kill Levy Nkomo (30), a teacher at Khatshana Primary School, following a dispute over a school tuckshop during a school development committee meeting.
“The tuckshop was being rented by a woman called Anna Sibanda who was not paying rent and people had agreed that she pays in the form of wares she was selling,” said Jamela.
“Varying ideas over the issue between Sibanda and Nkomo prompted a serious quarrel between them as Sibanda seemed to be in support of the woman,” he said.
He said a quarrel ensued and Nkomo is said to have later cooked up allegations that Sibanda threatened to kill him and allegedly wanted him removed from the school.
Nkomo made a report at Gomoza Police Station, leading to Sibanda’s arrest.
Sibanda alleged he was brutally tortured during interrogation at the police station before his release without charge.
Jamela said after the assault, his client sought medical attention before approaching ZLHR for legal representation.
Part of ZLHR’s letter, dated November 27, reads: “Our instructions are that Sibanda was detained by officers at Gomoza satellite police base in Lupane from 8am to 4pm.
“His detention was on allegations he was a murderer and that he had also threatened teachers not to teach in the area,” reads part of the letter to the Lupane officer-in-charge.
Following ZLHR’s letter, police allegedly reactivated the assault case against Sibanda. He is yet to appear in court.