THE High Court in Harare yesterday ordered police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi to return the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) property that was seized by police from the organisation’s offices in August 2012.
BY STAFF REPORTER
Justice Priscilla Chigumba said in her ruling the search and seizure of the property – which included computers, DVDs, pamphlets, compact discs and various documents – was unlawful and contravened Section 57 of the Constitution.
Justice Chigumba also declared invalid and set aside the warrant of search and seizure issued by Chief Superintendent Henry Dhowa and executed by Detective Chief Inspector Runganga and Detective Assistant Ben Justen who raided the Galz offices.
Justice Chigumba also noted that Galz was not obliged to register in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisations Act chapter 17:05 as it was not a private voluntary organisation and was, therefore, specifically exempted by the Act. The order was granted after human rights lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara’s application filed in the High Court in October 2012 seeking the release of the property which he argued was not linked to the commission of any crime.
The police had opposed the application and argued that it would not release the property until the completion of their probe because they wanted to use the items as exhibits in court.
Police raided Galz offices in Milton Park on August 2012 and confiscated the property on the basis of a search warrant in which the law-enforcement agents claimed that Galz was in “possession of pamphlets and fliers with information that promotes homosexuality for distribution.”
Meanwhile, Galz chairperson Martha Tholanah is set to stand trial on January 29 on charges of running an “unregistered” organisation.