MORE than 200 National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) members who were beaten up by police while demonstrating against Constitution Amendment No18 in
July have demanded close to $10 trillion from the police as compensation for assault, torture and unlawful detention.
In a notice of intention to sue addressed to Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and dated September 6 2007, the 206 NCA members who are represented by lawyer Andrew Makoni of Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni, are seeking compensation under the State Liabilities Act.
“We are instructed to demand from you…, that you pay the sum of $9 530 000 000 000 for assault, torture, pain, shock, suffering and unlawful detention and unlawful deprivation of liberty,” said Makoni in the demand letter.
Makoni said that his clients were beaten up after they had taken part in a peaceful march which had progressed peacefully without any incidence of violence being witnessed.
“Unfortunately for them members of the police pounced upon them and heavily assaulted them with open hands, clenched fists, booted feet, baton sticks and all sorts of weaponry. They were not placed under arrest, no charges were ever preferred against them and they were set free after the assaults. They had to seek medical attention, for the injuries sustained,” Makoni said.
At least four police officers were identified by name for assaulting and torturing the NCA members at the Harare Central Police Station courtyard.
“We are also notifying the following police officers who took part in assaulting our clients,” Makoni said. “Inspector Masenda who is officer in charge, Stodart Police Station, who boasted to our clients that she had beaten Morgan Tsvangirai before; Superintendent Chani, CID Law and Order, Harare Central Police Station; Chimaka, Harare Central Police Station; and Shepherd Machini who is based at Parliament Building.
“As they were being assaulted some members of the police force boasted to our clients that they would not arrest our clients.
“They further boasted to our clients that they would assault our clients to such an extent that they would never think of participating in a demonstration ever again. The attacks were indeed gruesome,” Makoni said.
“On occasions, our clients would be forced to lie prostrate, and some members of the police force would then step on top of our prostrate clients as they issued orders or relayed information to fellow police officers. Ruling party members and national youth service militia were also implicated in the assaults.
“Our clients further advise us that there were members of the ruling party, Zanu PF, Central Intelligence Organisation and militia from the National Youth Service who also took part in the onslaught against our clients. The operations wing of the police was running the show,” the lawyer said.
Last month the police were served with two demand letters with damages amounting to $5 trillion for assaults and unlawful detention of 55 Opposition and Civic Society leaders and 34 Movement for Democratic Change activists accused of training as terrorists in South Africa.