Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his three co-accused, all top government officials, have entered an appearance to challenge a $150 000 lawsuit filed by human rights activist, Linda Masarira, over her alleged unlawful arrest and detention.
Masarira had cited Mnangagwa, who doubles as Justice minister, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, police and prisons bosses Augustine Chihuri and Paradzai Zimondi as defendants in a case where she was arrested and detained in July last year over an outstanding warrant of arrest issued against her by a Mutare magistrate in 2015.
In summons issued on May 30 this year, Masarira claimed she was illegally arrested on July 6 last year, briefly detained at Marimba Police Station before her transfer to the Harare Central Police Station law and order section, where she was charged with obstructing the free movement of people and vehicles.
The defendants filed their opposing papers through the Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s Office on June 19 this year.
“Take notice that … on the 19th day of June 2017, defendants (Mnangagwa, Chombo, Chihuri and Zimondi) entered an appearance to defend this action … Summons were served on the defendant’s legal practitioners (AG’s Civil Division) on the 13th of June 2017,” the lawyers said.
In her declaration filed alongside the summons, Masarira said three days after getting arrested, she was denied bail by a Mbare magistrate on grounds of an outstanding warrant of arrest issued in Mutare in 2015.
Through her lawyers, Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, Masarira said she was detained at Chikurubi Female Prison in breach of her constitutional rights as the defendants delayed taking her to the Mutare Magistrates’ Court to have the arrest warrant cancelled.
The activist said she was only freed following the intervention of the High Court.
“At all material times, the plaintiff was deprived of her right to personal liberty because of the defendants’ intransigence. As a result of the foregoing, plaintiff suffered loss in the sum of $150 000,” the lawyers said.