BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
NINETEEN Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders have filed a combined $38 million lawsuit against police for unlawful arrest.
According to the summons filed at Mutare High Court, the 19 ZCTU leaders claim that they were unlawfully arrested on October 11, 2018 at their offices by police officers who were under the directive of Assistant Commissioner Florence Marume.
They were being charged with participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, in violation of Section 37(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
They were also charged with obstructing the free movement of vehicles and pedestrians along Jameson Street while intending to stage a demonstration, in the alternative.
They were, however, acquitted of the offence on November 13, 2020 by Mutare magistrate Sekai Chiundura who ruled that the State had failed to present evidence linking them to the offence.
Through their lawyer Passmore Nyakureba of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the activists said their arrest and detention was unlawful as they were not promptly informed of the reason for their arrest and that there was no reasonable suspicion that they had committed an offence.
The 19 activists stated in the court papers that they were detained in deplorable holding cells at Mutare Central Police Station for two nights.
Prosecutors claimed that the unionists had gathered to protest against the high cost of living and the imposition of a 2% transactions tax by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga were also cited as respondents.
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