Police dragged to court over spikes

HARARE - Human rights activist Okay Machisa has dragged the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to the High Court in a bid to stop the law enforcement agents from throwing spikes at moving vehicles.

In the application, Machisa — represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights — cited police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, as respondents.

Machisa, who is the national director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, told the court that the use of spikes by the police poses a danger to the public.

“I am concerned that despite their (spikes) potential to cause grievous harm to persons and property, the use of these devices is not governed by any legislation with individual police officers retaining discretion to decide when to deploy them,” he said.

“Consequently, the use of spikes is arbitrary and unregulated, resulting in some members of the ZRP using them in situations which may lead to loss of life and property in clear violation of the obligation to use justifiable force in effecting arrest,” Machisa said.

He said the application is in terms of Section 85 (1) (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which gives him the right to approach the court in cases of public interest and where fundamental rights need to be asserted.

“I am advised by my legal practitioners, which advice I accept that the indiscriminate use of spikes by members of the ZRP who fall within the control of the first and second respondents (Chihuri and Chombo) is illegal and unconstitutional,” he said.

Machisa added, “I am advised . . . that the use of force is justifiable only if the person sought to be arrested was committing or had committed, or was suspected of having committed an offence referred to in the first schedule. The most common traffic offences are fineable and do not fall within the ambit of the first schedule offences for which use of force is justified”.

He further said the police are using spikes in circumstances where it is not reasonably justifiable to do so.

“The current state of affairs where spikes are deployed without compunction is a violation of the right to administrative justice as set out in section 68 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair.”

Machisa is now seeking a prohibitory interdict banning the use of spikes by the ZRP.

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