A National University of Science and Technology (Nust) student who was unlawfully arrested and detained for allegedly participating in last year’s July 31 anti-Government protests, is suing Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe and police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga for $1 million.
Ms Panashe Vongai Sivindani was alleged to have gone to TM Supermarket at Ascot Shopping Centre in Bulawayo in July last year.
While inside, she allegedly displayed a placard, did her shopping and after paying, removed it and placed it in her bag. The placard is said to have been inscribed #NoToCorruption #FreeHopewell #NoToNepotism #NoCommissionedLawEnforcementAnd JusticeSystem and #WeWantAccountability.
She was allegedly caught on CCTV after an anonymous call was made to police, leading to her arrest
Ms Sivindani appeared in court four times for routine remand on charges of inciting public violence before the State consented to her application for refusal of further remand due to lack of evidence linking her to the alleged offence.
She said the facts giving rise to her claim are that on July 31 last year, she arrived at Bulawayo Central Police Station to file a report of the kidnapping of herself and her companion, Abednego Shakafuswa under case number CR105/07/20.
“Following the kidnapping report and the recovery of my car from the kidnappers with the help of the police, I was then informed to report to Khumalo Police Station. Upon arrival at the police station, my cellphone was seized by police and I was subsequently detained from 2PM to 8PM,” said Ms Sivindani.
“At around 8PM, when my lawyer managed to locate me at Kumalo Police Station, I was advised of my arrest and charged with inciting public violence. Pursuant to the arrest, I was then further detained in the police cells overnight before being taken to court on August 1, 2020.”
Ms Sivindani has through her lawyer Mr Bruce Masamvu of Mutatu, Masamvu and Da Silva-Gustavo Legal Practitioners, filed summons at the Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court citing Minister Kazembe, Comm-Gen Matanga and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), as defendants.
In papers before the court, Ms Sivindani said as a result of the defendants’ wrongful and malicious conduct, she suffered emotional trauma, pain and suffering.
She is seeking an order compelling the defendants to pay her $1 million being damages arising out of her unlawful arrest and detention.
“The first and second respondents (Minister Kazembe and Comm-Gen Matanga) through their officers clearly did not have any reasonable suspicion or evidence indicating that I had committed any offence, hence they are vicariously liable as they arrested and detained me,” said Ms Sivindani.
“As a result of the defendants wrongful and malicious conduct, they have together caused emotional trauma, pain and suffering to me by preferring baseless charges, detaining and prosecuting me.”
Mr Masamvu said as a result of the defendants’ conduct, his client suffered damages in the sum of $1 million.
He wants the defendants to be jointly and severally liable for the payment of the claim, with one paying the others to be absolved.
Ms Sivindani wants the defendants to pay the money with an interest of five percent calculated from the date of summons to the date of full and final settlement including the legal costs.
“Notice was given to the defendants of the plaintiff’s intention to sue on September 24 last year. The defendants have refused or neglected to pay despite lawful demand,” she said.
The defendants are yet to respond.