Harare Magistrate Ayanda Dhlamini has chastised Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) over the conduct of its members who humiliated and insulted a Mbare resident before arresting and detaining him on flimsy allegations of contravening national lockdown regulations.
24 year-old Tinashe Maumbe was arrested together with his friends Reward Majoni and Tinashe Majoni by ZRP officers on 16 January 2021 while walking past Matapi Police Station in Harare’s Mbare high-density suburb, when the law enforcement agents manning the entrance to the police station enquired where the trio was going. The ZRP officers accused Maumbe and his friends of being homosexuals and told them that homosexuality is not permitted in Zimbabwe.
The police officers subsequently detained Maumbe and his friends without pressing any charges against them and jeered at them. The trio was only released after lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) intervened.
Maumbe then enlisted the services of Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR and sued ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe and a police officer only identified as Mabika by filing summons in April 2021 at Harare Civil Magistrates Courts demanding payment amounting to ZWL900 000 as damages for unlawful arrest, detention, humiliation and embarrassment.
On 4 November 2022 and after presiding over the trial of Kazembe, Matanga and Mabika, Magistrate Dhlamini granted judgment in favour of Maumbe and ordered Matanga, Kazembe and Mabika to pay him ZWL800 000 as compensation for violation of his rights after ruling
that ZRP officers had “hysterically” arrested the 24 year-old Mbare resident based on their personal opinion of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, queer and questioning people.
Out of the ZWL800 000, ZWL$400 000 is for damages for unlawful arrest and detention while ZWL$400 000 is compensation for inhuman and degrading treatment.
Magistrate Dhlamini further ruled that the police officers, who arrested Maumbe, were not even aware of the COVID-19 provisions, which they purported to have cited upon apprehending him.
The Magistrate concluded that Maumbe’s arrest and detention was unlawful and that the police officers had jeered at him and insulted him for allegedly being a homosexual and by so doing, violated his right to human dignity guaranteed in terms of provisions of section 51 of the Constitution.