Police brutality victims challenge Police Act

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BY VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI
SOME victims of the 2018 police shootings have challenged the constitutionality of discriminatory provisions in the country’s Police Act.

Tomorrow, High Court judge Justice Siyabona Musithu will hear the challenge by two victims who are arguing that the Police Act has discriminatory provisions that impede litigants from seeking redress for violation of their fundamental freedoms.

The case emanates from the 2018 post-election violent protest during which six people were shot dead and dozens others injured by soldiers and anti-riot police.

In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said: “The hearing comes after the filling of an application  on April 25, 2022 by Brian Choba  and Justice Chiutsi, who were shot in February 2018 by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers, who argued that to limit the time within which aggrieved parties are allowed to sue ZRP to eight months  in terms of the provisions of section 70 of the Police Act is a violation of their constitutional rights as provided  in sections 56 and 69 of the Constitution. Section 56 of the Constitution guarantees the right to equal protection of the law and benefit of the law, while section 69 provides for the right to fair hearing.”

According to the duo, removing ZRP’s privilege will help in advancing the rights of those who would be on the receiving end of police brutality.

They also argue that the prescribed eight-month period in the Police Act is inadequate in a practical sense because it nullifies the fundamental right of access to the courts.

Choba and Chiutsi want the High Court to declare section 70 of the Police Act unconstitutional and inconsistent with sections 56 and 69 of the Constitution.

They are represented by ZLHR’s Tonderai Bhatasara, who also argues that there is no justification for the ZRP to be given preferential treatment for it to be sued within a shorter period of eight months.

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