Police, Kombi War: Victims Seek Payback

Bulawayo, May 19, 2014 – Four people battling for life after being

injured as a result of street wars between police and commuter minibus

drivers are taking the State to court after receiving a cold shoulder

from the law enforcement agency.

Immaculate Ndlovu, Esnath Phiri, Ntandoyenkosi Nkomo and Nokuthula

Mabhena were left for dead when the minibus they were travelling in

overturned after police officers threw spikes in a bid to stop the

moving vehicle in March.

The street wars between police and motorists have often affected

innocent people countrywide, frequently resulting in fatalities such

as the recent death of a three-­year-­old boy in Harare.

Police have repeatedly denied responsibility, and in the case of the

Bulawayo quartet they have ignored a notice of the victims’ intention

to sue sent by lawyers to police general headquarters in March.

The lawyers have now taken further steps to make the Zimbabwe Republic

Police (ZRP) pay for the reckless behaviour of its officers following

its indifferent attitude.

“Having received no response to our letter dated 28 March 2014 we are

under instructions from our clients to institute legal proceedings

against the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Ministry of Home Affairs

for the negligent conduct as explained in our letter,” reads a letter

sent to police Commissioner-­General Augustine Chihuri this month.

Nosimilo Chanayiwa and Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human

Rights (ZLHR) are representing Ndlovu, Phiri, Nkomo and Mabhena.

On the unfortunate day, police officers “acted in gross negligence” by

throwing spikes in front of a moving commuter minibus full of

passengers.

“This led to the vehicle’s tyres being deflated and consequently the

driver losing control of the vehicle which overturned and innocent

passengers were injured in varying degrees as a consequence to the

accident,” reads the latest letter dispatched to the police by the

lawyers.

“In as much as we understand the law enforcement mandate of your

officers, we believe that your officers acted in a very unreasonable

way under the circumstances as there are several ways in which

the driver would have been pursued or apprehended without endangering

the safety and lives of the innocent passengers.

“Our clients suffered varied degrees of injuries and were admitted at

Mpilo Hospital for more than two weeks. This exposed them to huge

medical bills in addition to the pain and suffering they went through

and continue to go through as a result of the accident which we

believe could have been avoided had your officers acted reasonably and

responsibly. We thus are of the view that you should take

responsibility for the actions of your officers,” the lawyers wrote.

The street wars have been roundly condemned by the public and human

rights organisations such as

ZLHR who say the police should explore other means to nab reckless

drivers. ZLHR last month raised concern that members of the ZRP were

being the catalysts or cause of a number of traffic accidents across

the country. ZLHR said there was a positive duty on the drivers of

commuter minibuses to respect the laws of the land and respect lives

of other road users.

“Where such duty is not upheld it is indeed the constitutional duty of

the police to intervene and protect other road and innocent

bystanders.

However, the police are equally obliged by law to intervene in such

circumstances in a reasonable manner that does not lead to harmful

effects extending to innocent bystanders. It is trite that

the police in the performance of their duties must respect and protect

human dignity, maintain and protect the human rights of all persons.

ZLHR reminds police officers that as public officers and in pursuance

of law and order they have a duty to uphold the Constitution which in

Section 48 guarantees the right to life. Section 51 of the

Constitution also guarantees the right to human dignity and provides

that ‘Every person has inherent dignity in their private and public

life, and the right to have that dignity respected and protected’.”

Source: The Legal Monitor