HARARE - Itai Dzamara’s brother Patson has filed an urgent High Court application seeking to force the police to lift its ban on the family’s planned peaceful march to mark one year since the activist’s disappearance.
In his application, Patson cited Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and officer commanding Harare Newbert Saunyama as respondents.
Patson, who is represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), said that he gave a notice to the police on February 19 advising of his family’s intention to hold a peaceful religious march to mark a year since the disappearance of Itai, who has been missing since March 9 last year.
He said despite the police being aware that religious gatherings are exempt from getting clearance notices in terms of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), they went ahead to stop the event.
“The peaceful religious march, which is so exempted…, was organised by my family and friends of Itai Dzamara, is supposed to take place on March 9, 2016 in Harare through some defined time and routines…,” Patson argued in his court papers.
He said in pursuance to the planned event, he went to see Saunyama at his offices, while in the company of his lawyer Sharon Hofisi and a family friend, who is also ZLHR’s senior project officer and communications and information officer Kumbirai Mafunda.
According to Patson, Saunyama was in the company of members of the Joint Operations Command (Joc) (a think-tank of top security commanders), who interrogated him why he was making reference to some people that disappeared in the past in his notice to the police.
Patson said Saunyama was very hostile and turned down his request, claiming it failed to comply with Posa requirements.
He said Saunyama’s actions of bringing Joc officials; including one member who was in Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services’ uniform, showed that he had “ulterior motives.”
Patson said another family march was previously banned by the police in August last year, without providing any justifiable reasons.
“In any event, the third respondent (Saunyama) did not show that there were any security threats to the internal security of our country if the march was to continue,” he argued, adding that Saunyama was exacerbating their emotional suffering by using “arbitrary powers that he is plucking from thin air.”