Tuesday, 28 July 2020

LOCKDOWN : LAWYERS DRAG COPS TO COURT


LAWYERS have taken police to court over a litany of new demands imposed by the law enforcement agents on the public over passage at police checkpoints during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week imposed new lockdown measures to curb the surge in COVID-19 cases and the police immediately responded by listing fresh requirements on top of exemption letters for employees still permitted to report for work to be allowed passage at the check points.

The police now demand health workers to be in uniform and those in civilian attire to have a letter from a medial superintendent stating the place and date of reporting on and off duty. 

Employees are now required to have letters from their chief executive officers stating the place, days and time of reporting on and off duty, among other demands.

But the Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe (YLAZ), a grouping of over 200 lawyers and a citizen, Nontokozo Tichaona, also a practising lawyer, have taken the police to court over the latest demands claiming they were unconstitutional.

In an urgent chamber application filed at the High Court yesterday, YLAZ and Tichaona said the respondent acted illegally and unconstitutionally by assuming law-making powers, which does not exist in terms of any law.

“Respondents intend to use the law which they created illegally at the expense of applicants fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution,” the lawyers said.

“Applicants stand to suffer irreparable harm should their fundamental rights (be) infringed as is being contemplated by the Press statement.

“There will not be adequate compensation to the curtailment of their right to free movement, right to administrative justice and their convenience which they are entitled to in terms of the Constitution as read with current lockdown measures.”

YLAZ said they had nowhere else to turn to for the protection of their rights and prevention of the pending harm except approaching the court.

They said they acted within 24 hours or immediately after coming across the Press statement on various social media platforms.

One of the lawyers, Emma Kate Drury, in her founding affidavit said the matter was urgent on the grounds that the respondents had acted illegally and unconstitutionally by assuming law-making powers, which does not exist in terms of any law. 

“Respondents intended to use law which they created illegally to stop applicants and other ordinary citizens from enjoying their rights to freedom of movement and other freedoms as provided in the Constitution,” the founding affidavit reads.

YLAZ and Tichaona are being represented by Obey Shava of Shava Law Chambers.

YLAZ cited Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi and the Home Affairs ministry as first to third respondents respectively. Newsday

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