BY SILAS NKALA
A worker at Cyrene Farm in Matabeleland South has filed a complaint against police officers at Figtree for allegedly illegally detaining and assaulting him for reporting invaders that stole fencing poles at the Anglican Church-run property.
Albert Sibanda (51), in a complaint filed with the officer in charge of Figtree Police Station through Jabulani Mhlanga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said he was a victim of police misconduct that occurred on June 28.
Mhlanga said on the day in question at 1pm, Sibanda went to Figtree Police Station to make a report about land invasion and theft of fencing poles at Cyrene Farm.
“Our client was attended to by Sergeant Mudzingwa, who refused to take a statement,” he wrote.
“Mudzingwa then went on to assault our client on his left arm and confiscate his cellphone on allegations he was illegally recording the conversation between them.
“Our client was detained inside the charge office with no explanation.
“Our client further advised that at 6pm Mudzingwa and another officer (name unknown) demanded that he take them to the scene of the incident (farm).
“Our client suggested that this be done the next day during the day.”
Mhlanga said Sibanda was only released at 9pm and his report was not recorded. He said the complainant suffered emotional trauma due to the ill-treatment.
“Given that the constitution of the country, section 219, mandates the police service to detect, investigate and prevent crime as well as to uphold the constitution and enforce the law without fear or favour, the conduct of the officers at Figtree Police Station is deplorable,” Mhlanga wrote.
“There is no justification for the treatment that our client was subjected to.
“Our client has said this is not the first time he has been ill-treated at Figtree Police Station.
“We have been instructed to bring these issues to your attention, hoping that the matters raised will be addressed and the perpetrators brought to book.
“We have further been instructed to demand as we hereby do the legal basis for the detention of our client for a period of eight hours, the steps which are taken by your office to ensure justice is not only done but is actually seen to be done …and your office immediately investigate the matters which our client was to report.”
He asked the officer in charge to respond soon as possible as Sibanda was afraid to go to the station in the meantime fearing victimisation by police.
Police are yet to respond to the letter.
Over 500 illegal settlers have occupied Cyrene Farm since 2003 and the church’s efforts to evict them have failed despite a High Court order of 2003.
The farm houses Cyrene High School, Cyrene Clinic and a cattle ranching concern with a herd of close to 300 cattle, 70 pigs and a horticulture project.