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Arrest booklet - Know your rights
Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)

This is a document in the Know Your Rights series

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The right to be free

The Zimbabwean Constitution says that everyone has a right to be free. But, a person's freedom can be taken away if he has committed a crime or he is lawfully arrested.

What is an arrest?

A person is arrested when he is taken to a police station because he is suspected of having committed a crime.

Who can arrest another person?

  • A police officer. All policemen and policewomen have powers to arrest a person under certain circumstances.
  • Other government officials, such as judges, magistrates, prison officers, immigration officers, National Parks & Wildlife Officers and some members of the CIO also have powers to arrest people.
  • Members of the public. There are some situations in which every person has the right to arrest another person.

When can a person be arrested?

If a police officer thinks a person has committed a crime, he will go to a magistrate or justice of the peace to get permission to arrest him. This permission is a written order called a warrant.

How does the police officer get the warrant?

  • A police officer gets some evidence that a certain person has committed a crime.
  • The policeman goes to a judge or magistrate or justice of the peace to ask for a warrant to be issued.
  • The policeman must state what crime he thinks the person has committed. He must also say that he has enough information to suspect that the person has committed it; he does not have to give all the evidence.
  • The judge or magistrate or justice of the peace issues a warrant for the suspect's arrest. The warrant is an order instructing all police officers to arrest the person named and bring him before a court to be charged with that specific offence.
  • The officer then finds the person, shows him the warrant, and arrests him.

There are also situations in which a policeman or ordinary person can arrest someone without a warrant.

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