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Justice Chidyausiku condemns police cells

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has described conditions in most police cells as “inhuman and degrading”...

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter
CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has described conditions in most police cells as “inhuman and degrading” and called for the refurbishment of the cells countrywide to avoid breaching suspects’ constitutional rights.

The head of judiciary also warned police, prosecution and the judiciary against colluding to ensure conviction of certain suspects, saying the three arms were separate and should operate independently as required by the supreme law of the country.

Officiating at a police passout parade of 554 recruits at Morris Depot in Harare yesterday, Chief Justice Chidyausiku said the courts had declared, on several occasions, that some police cells were inhabitable, but nothing was being done to improve them.

“The conditions in some of these cells are inhuman and degrading,” he said.

“The Constitutional Court has held that detaining suspects in these cells is a violation of their constitutional right.”
Justice Chidyausiku condemns police cells
Chief Justice Chidyausiku said although Government was facing some financial challenges, the refurbishment of police cells was affordable.

“It would be unrealistic to expect Government to provide resources to renovate all the police holding cells throughout the country in one go,” he said.

“Such a request is unattainable and unrealistic, having regard to the financial situation Government finds itself in.

“However, what I would ask for, and what I believe is possible, is for Government to repair these police holding cells piecemeal.

“This does not require a lot of money and would evince Government’s commitment to attend to this problem.”

Chief Justice Chidyausiku said suspects that were held in the police cells were Zimbabweans who deserved decency in line with the Constitution.

The Chief Justice said while co-operation was important among the police, prosecution and the bench, there must not be collusion.

“While the need for co-operation between the police, National Prosecution Authority and the judiciary cannot be overemphasised, particularly at the administrative level, there should never be collusion between them,” he said.

“Co-operation ever, collusion never! These three arms that are responsible for the delivery of justice are separate and distinct, and constitute the essential elements of the justice delivery system.”

Chief Justice Chidyausiku said each of the three players must concentrate on their mandate and court decisions must be based on the evidence and law.

“Accordingly, there should never be an expectation that because the police have arrested an accused person and the NPA has prosecuted that person, therefore, the court must convict that person,” he said.

Chief Justice Chidyausiku warned the NPA against bringing to court cases that have not been thoroughly investigated, adding that the courts should not hesitate to hold to account the police and prosecutors who fail to discharge their duties properly and profession- ally.

He said the police should not hesitate to arrest and investigate judicial officers who break the law.

The passout parade was attended by police commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, senior Government officials, captains of industry and senior police officers.
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