Victims of police brutality have demanded the amendment of the Police Act to remove provisions which shield victims from seeking redress for violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms. In a statement seen by Pindula News, the victims said the removal of police privilege will help in advancing the rights of those who would be on the receiving end of police brutality or whose rights and freedoms would have been violated. Reads the statement by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) who are representing the victims:
VICTIMS OF POLICE BRUTALITY CHALLENGE UNCONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION WHICH UNFAIRLY SHIELDS POLICE FROM LITIGATION
HIGH Court Judge Justice Siyabona Musithu will on Wednesday 27 July 2022 convene a hearing challenging the constitutionality of some restrictive and discriminatory provisions of the Police Act, which unfairly impede litigants from seeking redress for violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms.
The hearing comes after the filing of an application on 25 April 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 section 56 of the Constitution and section 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 a fair hearing.
Choba and Chiutsi, who are represented by Tonderai Bhatasara of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, argued that there is no justification why ZRP should be given preferential treatment for them to be sued within a shorter period of eight months.
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 or whose rights and freedoms would have been violated.
Choba and Chiutsi want the High Court to declare section 70 of the Police Act to be unconstitutional and inconsistent with section 56(1) of the Constitution and section 69(2) and (3) of the Constitution.
Choba and Chiutsi, who are victims of police brutality and sued ZRP and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe in 2018, petitioned the High Court after the law enforcement agency sought to have their lawsuit filed four years ago dismissed on the basis that any civil proceedings instituted against it should have been commenced within eight months after the cause of action had arisen.
The victims of police brutality argue that the eight months’ period prescribed in the Police Act is inadequate in a practical sense such that it nullifies the fundamental right of access to the courts.