OFFICIALS from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act, possessing articles for criminal use and impersonating the police, yesterday made an application to have the matter referred to the Supreme Court, arguing that their constitutional rights had been breached.
Report by Phillip Chidavaenzi
Thabani Mpofu, Mehluli Tshuma, Felix Matsinde and Warship Dumba told Harare provincial magistrate Tendai Mahwe through their lawyer Alec Muchadehama that since they first appeared in court, they indicated that there were going to apply to have the matter referred to a higher court.
The issue, Muchadehama said, was also raised in the letter he wrote to prosecutor Michael Reza that the accused had their fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution violated.
He said in Chapter 4 of the new Constitution, Section 175 (4), once a court was confronted with the issue of declaration of rights, it must refer the matter to the Supreme Court. Mpofu said his constitutional rights were violated because when he was arrested on March 17 at his home, the police officers who came and searched his house had no warrant of arrest.
He told the court police ransacked his house and carried away official and personal documents, family photographs, laptops, mobile phones belonging to himself, his wife and nephew, cameras and drove off his Mercedes Benz although when they first appeared they told him they wanted the camera with which he had allegedly taken photos of government officials.
Mpofu said the search took about two hours and during that time, he was never told of the crime he had allegedly committed and official charges were only pressed over 30 hours later.
He said when the officer who arrested him, Superintendent Luckson Mukazhi, saw his Mercedes Benz, he remarked that the Prime Minister was taking good care of him, after which Mpofu said he reminded the police officer that he acquired the vehicle before joining the PM’s office and at one point offered him a lift in the same vehicle.
Mpofu said as far as he was concerned, taking photos of government officials was not a crime under Zimbabwean law because if it was, “journalists would all be in jail”.
The application continues tomorrow.