Two Masunga Police Station female officers suing government for unlawful arrest and detention have accused their boss of inhuman treatment and humiliation.
The duo, Zondiwe Nkumba and Omphemetse Jack, have accused Assistant Superintendent Boitshepo Kaisara of inhuman treatment and humiliation after they were arrested and detained on the 14th of August 2012 for allegedly stealing goods they had confiscated from illegal traders.
The two are suing government for P80 000 in damages.
Testifying before Francistown High Court Judge Gaopalelwe Ketlogetswe last week, first plaintiff, Nkumba, narrated in graphic detail to the court how her senior, Kaisara, humiliated and inhumanely treated them after they were arrested as suspects in the theft of goods at the police station.
“Our ordeal began on the 14th of August in 2012 when we were conducting an operation in Masunga with other officers from the Department of Labour, Immigration and By-law offices. Our operation involved confiscation of goods from illegal traders,” she said.
Nkumba added that in the afternoon of that day, Kaisara declared her, together with a fellow officer colleague, Jack, as suspects in the theft of the goods confiscated from the traders. Their personal belongings (cell-phones and handbags) were taken by Kaisara who arrested them.
Nkumba said that they were then taken to the police station for questioning and interrogation whereupon they were detained for the whole day while in uniform. She testified further that the following day they were ordered to clean the detention cells while still wearing their duty uniforms. After cleaning they were locked up in the cell again. Later during the same day, the police officers were taken to their houses by their boss where searches were conducted and nothing found. It was only after the search that they were given back their personal belongings and released.
She said that Kaisara did not produce any search warrant during the search of their houses.
“Our reputation was tarnished leaving us with emotional trauma and humiliation. The most painful issue is that we were forced to clean the dirty cells while we were fully clad in our police uniforms in front of the detainees and fellow police officers. We were also denied food and blankets as we spent the whole night standing in the cell,” Nkumba told the presiding judge.
To add salt to injury, Kaisara gave the media an interview which, in her view, tarnished their image further.
“I seek a claim of P80 000 as money for damages and seek the court to assist me in that regard,” she said.
The second plaintiff, Jack corroborated her colleague’s evidence that they were inhumanly treated and humiliated. She also prayed the court to order damages against the police for the inhuman treatment meted out on them.
For his part, Kaisara testified that he arrested and detained the two lawfully for suspicion of stealing confiscated goods. He insisted that he arrested the two upon receiving information that they had stolen the missing goods.
Kaisara, however, confirmed that the goods were later recovered from one Tangisani who is a driver at the Immigration Department who was part of the operation.
Asked by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Mishingo Jeremiah, as to why he did not produce a search warrant before searching the houses of the two officers, Kaisara said that he was acting on section 52 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
“This section stipulates clearly that a police officer above the rank of a sergeant can search suspects without a search warrant,” he told court.
Kaisara also maintained that he cautioned and warned the two officers for a charge of stealing by person employed in the public service.
Both parties are yet to furnish the court with written submissions.