RIGHTS lawyer Douglas Coltart has joined hands with four pro-democracy activists to sue Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe, police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for RTGS$12.5 million for “wrongful and malicious arrest and prosecution” on charges of plotting to foment civil obedience in the country.
The other four activists are Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) secretary general Robson Chere, Jessica Drury, Munyaradzi Ndawana and Precious Ndlovu.
The group was arrested April 2019 after allegedly being caught in possession of a book entitled, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”.
They were later charged with participating in a gathering with intent to promote public breaches of peace or bigotry.
During trial which commenced on 19 August 2020, prosecutors claimed that Coltart, Chere, Drury, Ndawana and Ndlovu plotted a rebellion by gathering unlawfully at Zambezi Roots Lodge in Harare’s Greystone Park suburb on 27 April 2019, where they held a training workshop to strategise on ways of “spearheading a host of civil disobedience in Zimbabwe”.
Prosecutors alleged that some police officers who arrested the group recovered some material which was being used during the alleged training.
This, they said, included a book titled “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” authored by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, five paper sheets with various messages, some crayons, assorted pens, a cup, point markers and sticky notes, among other materials.
The five, who were represented by Beatrice Mtetwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), were acquitted at the close of the state case when a magistrate ruled that prosecutors had failed during trial to establish a prima facie case against them.
The group has gone on to file summons at the Harare Magistrates Court seeking an order compelling Kazembe, Matanga, the NPA, Detective Sergeant Lovemore Marwisa, Detective Constable Dennis Muroiwa to pay compensation amounting to RTGS$12.5 million as damages for “wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution, affront to dignity, embarrassment and humiliation”.
They are each demanding RTGS$2.5 million from Kazembe, Matanga, NPA, Marwisa and Muroiwa. newzimbabwe