Tsvangirai aide torture case on today

HARARE - The High Court is today set to hear an appeal by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, who says he was tortured while in police custody.

Tamborinyoka is seeking to have police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and other officials held accountable.

He is demanding $200 000 compensation from the State after he was brutally attacked by Harare Central Police Station-based cops in 2007.

The trained journalist is pursuing the application, initially lodged in 2007, and is now seeking the court to amend the papers for the claim to be made in United States dollars.

When he initially made the application, Tamborinyoka was seeking Z$20 billion, but now wants it to be substituted with $200 000.

In the application, Tamborinyoka is suing Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, Chihuri, assistant commissioner Musarashana Mabunda, police officers only identified as J Chani and Kambanje, and the officer-in-charge CID Law and Order.

He argued that his application for amendment is premised on the basis that the Zimbabwean dollar is no longer legal tender, since adoption of the multi-currency system in 2009.

“For this reason, it is no longer tenable or proper for me to persist with my prayer for relief that sounds in a retired or decommissioned currency. This leaves me with no choice but to seek that my claim be amended by the deletion of the local currency wherever it is mentioned and its substitution with United States dollars which is officially legal tender having been approved through the Finance Act (No.2) of 2009,” Tamborinyoka said.

The incident leading to the current litigation took place in March 2007, when police made a surprise raid of MDC headquarters, Harvest House in the Harare CBD, and arrested Tamborinyoka together with several others.

“At the time of the arrest, no warrant of arrest had been issued against plaintiff (Tamborinyoka). Plaintiff had not committed any offence. He was neither in the act of committing nor on the verge of committing an offence. There was no reasonable suspicion that plaintiff had committed or was about to commit any offence,” Tamborinyoka said in his court papers.

He said he was not informed of the reasons for the arrest, but was subsequently charged, resulting in him spending two-and-a-half-months in remand prison. The charges against him were subsequently dropped and he claims that his arrest was therefore unlawful.

Before his release, he had been subjected to interrogations and assaults by police officers.

“The assailants, who were more than five in number, were using a baseball stick, metal objects, open hands, fists, booted feet and all sorts of weaponry.

“Plaintiff, together with fellow detainees, was forced to lie on their bellies facing the floor. They were made to make different noises resembling nocturnal animals and birds,” Tamborinyoka said.

He said during his detention, he was denied the right to legal representation, food, medication among other rights.

“Plaintiff contends that the conduct of the police towards him was unjustified and in flagrant breach of plaintiff’s fundamental rights embodied in national and international human rights frameworks. In particular, the treatment of plaintiff at the hands of the police was inhuman (and) degrading…,” he said, adding that the treatment was unnecessary, malicious and vindictive.

He said as a result of the unlawful arrest, unlawful deprivation of liberty and malicious prosecution, he was entitled to compensation.

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