The High Court has blasted Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and his senior officers for violating the rights of police convicts through an unconstitutional retraining exercise on junior officers convicted of misconducts.
Scores of police convicts were being detained at Morris Depot in Harare for further punishment disguised as “retraining”, despite serving their respective prison sentences at Chikurubi detention barracks.
Six constables last week successfully challenged the brutal exercise, saying they were being assaulted, denied food and had their salaries unilaterally slashed during the retraining period.
They complained of being forced to wear heavy trench coats in scotching sun, barred from accessing the outside world and being denied proper clothing, among other forms of abuse.
They deposed affidavits explaining the violation of human rights by the police, resulting in the court ordering their immediate release.
Justice Francis Bere said he could not believe that Comm Gen Chihuri just watched as his fellow police bosses flagrantly breached the constitutional rights of the juniors.
“It is difficult for me to fathom that all these shenanigans are being done with the approval of the Commissioner-General of Police,” he said.
“It is particularly frightening to note that this well-orchestrated scheme is being instigated by senior members of the police against fellow police officers.
“The enquiry in this case has exposed the respondents (police bosses) of their deliberate violation of not only their own Police Act, but the Constitution as well.”
Justice Bere said instead of punishing the junior officers, it was one of the leading perpetrators like Senior Assistant Commissioner Grace Ndebele who required rehabilitation.
“What is clear is that the second respondent (Ndebele) made a miserable attempt to defend the indefensible, thereby, exposing herself as one of the chief architects of the degrading and inhuman treatment of fellow police officers,” he said.
“It is such officers like the second respondent who require rehabilitative assistance in order to properly manage the affairs of the police force.”
Justice Bere bemoaned the unprofessionalism exhibited by the senior officers in the case, describing it as unbelievable.
“When I had this level of senior police brutality against the applicants who are fairly junior members of the force, I could not believe such was the situation in our beloved Zimbabwe Republic Police,” he said.
“The situation became even more worrisome to me when it was brought to my attention that the plight of the applicants had worsened as a result of their decision to exercise their constitutional right by mounting this application.
“This was said to have been orchestrated by Senior Assistant Commissioner Ndebele. My natural and judicious reaction was to instruct that the officer concerned presents herself to court and explain her conduct.”
From Sen Asst Comm Ndebele’s testimony, Justice Bere said he established that there was no proof of any retraining taking place at Morris Training Depot.
She failed to produce any documents confirming the retraining programme, neither did she bring any of the training instructors to confirm the existence of the training, he said.
The court had to believe the applicants, considering that they had indicated that no training was being conducted except for humiliation and embarrassment of the juniors by senior officers at the depot.
Meanwhile, 11 other constables who separately filed their own applications for freedom this week, yesterday won their case before Justice Happias Zhou.
“The respondents are ordered to release the applicants from detention at Morris Depot forthwith or at least not later than 24 hours from the date of this order,” he said.
“The respondents are interdicted from subjecting the applicants to a process stipulated in circular 24/2014 authored by JC Chengeta the 4th respondent herein. The disciplinary trials against the applicants whilst based on circular 24/2014 be stayed until this matter is finalised.” The Herald