Stop abusing suspects, cops told

HARARE - Police officers have been told to desist from assaulting and over-detaining suspects in cells, as they risk being sued in their personal capacity by victims.

This emerged from a recently-held meeting by police officers in charge of the suburban district at the Harare Magistrates’ Court, which was chaired by the provincial magistrate.

“Police should stop assaulting suspects held in cells or during indications as this has resulted in members being sued in their individual capacity for Contravening Section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20). It should be noted that confessions and admissions obtained through compulsion are inadmissible at law,” reads part of a memorandum compiled during the meeting.

In most cases, suspects complain of being assaulted by police while in cells, while others complain of being detained for more than the prescribed 48 hours.

Recently, a Harare businessman Last Mapuranga was removed from remand after he was detained for more than 48 hours. He has since written a letter to Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo demanding $20 000 compensation.

According to the letter, Mapuranga was arrested on April 29, this year before being taken to Borrowdale Police Station facing charges of conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

Mapuranga was accused of having spat on a customer at his business premises.

“He (Mapuranga) was then detained at Borrowdale Police Station…and was released the following day…only to be redetained under a different detention number…over the same offence,” Mapuranga’s lawyers said.

The lawyers demanded the payment to be done within 60 days, failure of which they said they were going to institute court proceedings against the minister and a police officer only identified as Jaravani from Borrowdale Police Station.

However, the police meeting deliberated on the need by police officers to apply for warrants of further detention before the lapse of 48 hours.

“Officers in charge should note that the time of detention of an accused person starts when the suspect or accused is arrested and deprived of his freedom and not at the time that he or she is entered in the prisoners’ detention book. Any person who is illegally detained is entitled to compensation from the person responsible for the over detention,” the memorandum reads.

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