Zimbabwean nationals, Tafireyi Gwere and Admire Nyoni, have dragged Botswana government to court, demanding P1.2 million as damages for unlawful arrest and torture.
The two claim they were unlawfully detained and tortured by Botswana Police on allegations of stealing diesel from Debswana Mining Company buses in Letlhakane.
They are represented by Mishingo Jeremiah of Mmohe Attorneys. In their application to Francistown High Court Judge Modiri Letsididi, Gwere and Nyoni say they suffered damages as a result of unlawful detention and torture.
They claim that on August 7, 2008 they were arrested and detained at Letlhakane Police station, where they were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by three police detectives.
Documents submitted in court also show that the police detained Nyoni even after he produced proof that he purchased the diesel that he was accused of stealing.
“The arrests and detentions of the plaintiffs were malicious and unlawful. The plaintiffs suffered due to negligence and abuse of their constitutional rights,” submitted Jeremiah.
He further argued that the defendants were acting within the course and scope of their employment and are therefore liable for all damages to the complaints. He said Gwere and Nyoni suffered disturbance and loss of income, and their reputation was tarnished. He added that the defendants were tortured and were never given any medical assistance.
When giving evidence in court, one of the defendants, Lesego Ndebele said he arrested Gwere after a tip off that he was carrying tonnes of diesel suspected to be stolen from Debswana Mining Company buses.
“He failed to produce any legitimate documents or receipts to prove that the fuel that he was carrying was his. Even Nyoni’s documents were not satisfactory,” he said.
He said Nyoni and Gwere gave contradicting statements, as one said he bought the diesel from a South African truck driver while the other said they bought it from Tapiwa filling station.
“I had already received a number of reports of diesel being stolen from Debswana Buses in Orapa, and the suspects had to be remanded because they all failed to produce any documents or receipts legitimate enough to link them to the property,” he said.
Ndebele also dismissed allegations that the suspects were tortured, saying they were treated just like any other suspect.
Another witness, Masego Faledora also denied that the suspects were tortured.