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Mtetwa claims $80b from police, parent ministry
Walter Marwizi, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
October 28, 2007

BEATRICE Mtetwa, the President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, has sued the police and the Ministry of Home Affairs for the beatings she endured in May at the hands of gun-toting and truncheon-wielding officers.

Her lawyer, Harrison Nkomo of Mtetwa & Nyambirai, last week lodged an $80 billion lawsuit against Superintendent Tendere of Harare Central Police Station, the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs.

Tendere is being sued in his individual capacity. Court documents show that he was in charge of police when lawyers intended to register their concerns over the arrest of human rights lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni in Harare at the High Court on 8 May.

Tendere is said to have ordered the lawyers to disperse before instructing police under his control to assault Mtetwa and the other lawyers.

Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer, was shoved into the back of a police truck together with three other lawyers, Chris Mhike, Colin Kahuni and Terence Fitzpatrick. The lawyers were dumped in a bushy area in Eastlea where Mtetwa and her colleagues were ordered to "lie prone on the ground whilst the said members of the ZRP violently assaulted her on the back, shoulders and buttocks.

"As a direct result of the assault, the Plaintiff sustained serious injuries on her shoulders, back and buttocks in respect of which she is claiming damages," reads the summons sent to the defendants.

Nkomo noted that as a result of the defendants' unlawful action, Mtetwa needed to be compensated:

"Eighty billion dollars being damages for unlawful arrest, pain and suffering, contumelia and medical expenses being delictual damages suffered by the Plaintiff after an unlawful assault perpetrated upon her human person by uniformed members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police at Harare on the 8th May 2007, and 2nd and 3rd defendants are vicariously liable for the delict committed."

It was not clear if the defendants had filed opposing papers by the time of going to press.

Meanwhile, the High Court on Friday overturned a ban and restrictions imposed by police on a birthday party for St Mary's legislator Job Sikhala.

Sikhala was forced to approach the High Court for relief on Thursday after a Chief Superintendent T A Chagwedera, the Officer Commanding Chitungwiza, issued a restrictive order for the celebrations to be held in the constituency.

In the order Chagwedera said the "celebrations should not be converted into a political meeting" and that they "should be held in one day and not two days as indicated".

Another condition was that Sikhala should "co-operate with government security agents, uniformed and non-uniformed and furnish them with whatever they may wish to know regarding the proceedings of the celebrations".

The police chief also notified Sikhala that he could not hold the celebrations at Chaminuka grounds today for the reasons that police were committed elsewhere and therefore could not provide officers who could monitor it.

Sikhala's intention was to hold a prayer meeting at Jabula church yesterday and then an open party today at Chaminuka grounds.

In his application Sikhala, who was represented by Nkomo, said it was his "constitutional right to assemble, associate and express myself, and so is the right of my guests". He also said police had no authority to ban birthday parties without any justification.

Sikhala said if the ban was not reversed he would also suffer financial losses. He provided the court with receipts of a band that he had paid $150 million to perform and the sound system that cost $40 million. He said he also bought food for the guests. He said other guests were on their way from Britain and it would not be fair to cancel the event.

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