By Fidelis Munyoro
The seizure of a Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA) top of the range vehicle central to police investigation was lawful, the High Court has ruled in the case in which the church wanted an order compelling the police to release the vehicle.
The vehicle, a Toyota Hilux D4D twin cab, was seized by police last month on the basis that it was an exhibit in a criminal case of kidnapping and extortion reported by one Marufu Chipondoro.
ZAOGA had sued the police, Chipondoro and Tinotenda Shumba involved in the sale of the vehicle, arguing that the church was not party to the criminal investigation which led to the confiscation of the vehicle.
It was also the church’s contention that delays in completion of the criminal process would expose the vehicle to the vagaries of the weather during the time it would be under police custody.
According to the church, the car was bought for use in its ministry work during the period of the Covid-19-induced lockdown and was prepared to avail the vehicle as and when it was required by the police for the ongoing criminal proceedings.
But the police, through its legal counsel, implored the court not to interfere with a process that was lawfully carried out.
It argued that granting the relief sought by the church would be tantamount to defeating the course of justice.
The criminal allegations made against the suspects implicated in the kidnapping and extortion cases went to the root of the legality of the disposal of the vehicle to the unsuspecting church.
The court was called to determine whether the court could grant relief that effectively upsets a lawful process.
Justice Paul Musithu would not agree with the church’s submissions, saying the court could not interdict a lawful process.
He dismissed the application.
“Doing so would be undermining the very law in terms of which the process was carried out,” he said.
“The law is presumed to constitutionally valid, until declared unconstitutional by the courts.
“The courts will only interfere where the process which found the complaint was not carried out in terms of the very law that permits it.”
Justice Musithu noted that it was not refute that the police action was lawful.
What up-stretched the church’s indignation was the apparent inconvenience that it was likely to suffer as a result of the confiscation of the vehicle.
The vehicle had been acquired for a definite purpose. Its confiscation meant that the objectives behind its acquisition had been defeated.
The church was also concerned about delays in the conclusion of the criminal proceedings and deterioration of the vehicle as a result of its exposure to the unfriendly weather conditions.
This, Justice Musithu, said such complaints could not make a basis for the court to interfere with a lawful process.
The seizure was carried out in terms of the provisions of the criminal law procedure and evidence law. The Herald