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
“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
“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
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