A Bye-Law officer at the North East District Council (NEDC), Ashley Moyo is angry, alleging she was brutally assaulted by a Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) officer in December last year.
Narrating her ordeal to the Sunday Standard in an interview, she said she used to work for LAPAD (Local Authority and Asset Disposal Board), a department that deals with the award of tenders at NEDC in Masunga before being transferred to Tati Siding village, where she is currently stationed at the council’s satellite office.
“On the 4th of December last year three DCEC officers came to my office and said that they are doing a follow up on an issue they had been investigating since March 2014. The issue was in connection with the awarding of tenders in Masunga as I was working in the LAPAD department earlier that year. The officers further informed me that there was a query from one of the bidders concerning the award of a building material tender,” she said.
Moyo said the officers demanded to go with them to their Francistown office for an interview concerning the tender.┬á The officers also demanded her cell phones as part of their investigations.
“I demanded to know why they wanted my cell phones as they could just carry their investigations through the cell phone service providers.
They said that they have their own specialist, a forensic investigation officer who will be able to do his investigation in the cell phones. I ultimately gave in and handed my two blackberry cell phones to them. One was brand new and the other one had defects but working. The officers warned that if I refused to hand them the cell phones, they will produce a warrant giving them the right to confiscate the phones,” said Moyo with tears swelling down her eyes.
“The officers then demanded to know what happened during the tender opening when I was still working for the LAPAD department in Masunga. They also demanded to know who I was with. One of them was even forcing me to remember everything which was not possible,” she added.
She said one of the officers, whom she only remembers as Makwatse assured her that they would return the cell phones in a short period of time at the conclusion of their investigations.
The following day on the 5th of December she called the DCEC office to enquire from Makwatse if she could come and collect her phones. Makwatse apologised and informed her to come and collect the phones after two days. “When I got to their offices after two days I found an officer who only identified himself as Lucky Mpugwa. He opened a shelf and handed me the two cell phones. I could hardly recognise them as they were in a bad condition,” she said.
She said she demanded to know from Mpugwa if her phone had been dropped because it had new visible cracks. Mpugwa took unkindly to her complaints becoming arrogant and defensive. She alleged she unwillingly took the cell phones while telling Mpugwa that she will fix them herself.
“To my surprise Mpugwa turned violent and grabbed me by my clothes. He pushed the chair that I was sitting and I fell to the ground. We had a long scuffle and he pressed me to the ground with his foot on my jaw. I managed to loosen his grip and I bit him on the foot. I still wonder what kind of a man would do that to a woman,” she said.
Moyo said at that time, they were joined by a female security guard and another DCEC officer who helplessly watched the unfolding drama. She alleged the security guard and officer supported Mpugwa blaming her for starting the scuffle.
“I expected the security guard and the other DCEC officer to listen to my story but they all sided with Mpugwa apportioning the blame on me for the scuffle. Mpugwa suddenly produced handcuffs and he handcuffed me. He demanded that I be remanded in custody,” she said. Moyo was then whisked to Francistown Central Police Station where a charge of assault on Mpugwa was opened.
“The most humiliating part is that I was escorted to the DCEC vehicle in the vicinity of onlookers who were near the DCEC office. When we arrived at the police station, the case was handled by the acting station commander Assistant Superintendent Edward Leposo. The DCEC officer including the security guard gave oral statements supporting Mpugwa’s version that I was the aggressor. I wanted to also open a case of assault but the police officer denied me the opportunity. They said I cannot open a counter complaint in a criminal matter,” she said.
She alleged that she was released later in the course of the day.
Reached for comment, Assistant Superintendent Leposo confirmed that they charged Moyo for assaulting an officer of the law. He said the case is still with the DPP who will decide on whether to prefer charges and prosecute Moyo.
“The DPP is still collecting evidence to see if they should prosecute or not,” he said.
Moyo has in the meantime engaged an attorney, Musa Solomon of Thapelo Attorneys law firm to seek P100 000 in damages she suffered from Mpugwa’s alleged assault on her.
Solomon confirmed that they have already issued a notice of intention to sue to the Attorney General.
“We have issued a notice of intention to sue to the first respondent, which is the Attorney General and the second respondent, Lucky Mpugwa,” he said.
“As a result of the unlawful assault, arrest and inhuman treatment that she was subjected to, client suffered damages in the amount of P100 000,” reads part of the notice to the Attorney General.
The Sunday Standard is in possession of Moyo’s medical report dated 8 December 2013 that details the scratches she incurred during the scuffle.