ZIMBABWE – A high Court judge has ruled that the dual prosecution of police officers on the same charge in terms of both the Police Act and ordinary law is unlawful.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Francis Bere granted a provisional order in favour of five police officers who had filed an urgent chamber application challenging internal trial proceedings by the force following their acquittal on extortion charges.
Assistant Inspector Lloyd Mazura,38, and Sergeants Edmund Magama,36, Manatsa Gwamuri,39, Pasi Mukwashi and Constable Justin Mavesera,34, filed a lawsuit against Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and the trial officer, Chief Superintendent M Moyo.
The five, all stationed at the ZRP Border Control and Minerals Unit in Bulawayo, were accused of extorting $200 from a commuter omnibus driver they allegedly arrested for smuggling goods into the country.
Bulawayo provincial magistrate Gladmore Mushove acquitted them due to lack of evidence but their superiors went on to charge them in terms of the Police Act.
Justice Bere ruled that the move by Com Gen Chihuri and C Supt Moyo to proceed with the prosecution of the applicants for the same charge under the Police Act was unlawful.
Justice Bere interdicted the police bosses from proceeding with trial.
“The trial proceeding conducted by the first respondent (Moyo) against the applicants is therefore set aside,” he said.
The five were arrested on September 24, 2015 when they pursued Lovemore Mudumo, a transport operator plying the Bulawayo-Beitbridge route, as he was at Emakhandeni delivering his clients’ goods brought from Beitbridge.
The State had alleged that the police officers ordered Mudumo to pay $200 to them and another $50 to a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) security guard for the kombi’s release, but he only paid $30 and was told to bring the balance later.
Mudumo drove out of Zimra premises and went to report the matter to the police.
In their defence, the five police officers said when they arrested Mudumo for smuggling, he tried to bribe them and they refused. They said they ordered him to drive to Zimra for verification of goods.