Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Police officers drag government to court for unlawful arrest, detention

Two police officers based at Masunga Police Station in the North East District have taken the government to court for unlawful arrest and detention.

The two female officers, Zondiwe Nkumba and Omphemetse Jack, are demanding P80 000 as compensation for damages.

According to the summons served to the Francistown High Court by their lawyer, Mishingo Jeremia, of Jeremia Attorneys, on the 14th of August 2012, during the course of their duty, they were involved in an operation in Masunga, which involved confiscation of goods from traders who were not licensed to trade such goods.

In the afternoon of that day, the Assistant Superintendent at Masunga Police Station, Boitshepo Kaisara, declared the officers to be suspects in the stealing of some of the goods collected from the traders. Their personal belongings, being cellphones and handbags, were then confiscated by Kaisara who then placed them under arrest.

The officers were then taken to Masunga Police station for questioning and interrogation, where they were detained for the whole day and were later put inside a cell of illegal immigrants, fully clad in their police uniform. The following day, the two police officers were made to clean the police cells which they did while they were still in their police uniform as detainees. They were then locked up in their cell. Later during the same day, the police officers were taken to their houses by the Assistant Superintendent where searches were conducted and nothing was found. The officers were then handed back their personal belongings and were released.

In the summons, their lawyer Jeremia says that although the Assistant Superintendent and other police officers involved in the arrest were acting within the course and scope of their employment, the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General are liable for their actions. He says that the arrest and detention of the plaintiffs was malicious, unreasonable and unlawful.

“There was absolutely no justification for the arrest and detention of the plaintiffs as they had not done anything wrong, nor were they reasonably suspected of having committed any offence. There is nothing at all that is linking the plaintiffs with the commission of any offence,” he says.

Jeremiah further maintains that the purpose of the plaintiffs arrest was to humiliate and degrade them, which turned to be unlawful and malicious. He argues that since the police were stationed at the same police station where investigations where done and lived in the police camp, there was no need for the Assistant Superintendent to get overexcited and arrest and detain the plaintiffs when no basis existed to do such.

“The arrest and detention of plaintiffs was very humiliating and embarrassing. The plaintiffs were also deprived of their liberty unlawfully,” Jeremia further says.

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