Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
A bid by Magamba Cultural Activist Network Trust (Magamba Network) to recover computers that were recently seized by the police hit a brick wall after the High Court ruled that police actions were above board.
Detectives from the CID Law and Order section obtained a warrant of search and seizure on November 8 this year and seized laptops and desktop computers from the organisation’s offices in Harare.
The seizure, the police said, was part of their investigations. In a bid to recover the seized computers, Magamba, through Mr Tonderai Bhatasara of Mapanga, Bhatasara Legal Practitioners, filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court for the release of the property.
The organisation argued that the warrant relied on was too wide and general. It, therefore, argued that the warrant was invalid. However, Justice Happias Zhou found the police’s actions to be lawful and threw out the application.
“As pointed out earlier on, the warrant is not general but specifically identifies laptops, computers and printers as the items to which it relates. The interdict sought cannot, therefore, be granted as the applicant is seeking to interdict a lawful process. An order for the return of seized items would defeat the process of investigation. In the result, the application is dismissed with costs,” he said.
The organisation filed the application citing Home Affairs Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and a Detective Chief Inspector Runganga as respondents.
According to the court papers, the computers were seized for generating content deemed as meant to subvert a constitutional government, which led to the arrest of an American national Martha O’Donovan.
Mr Tonderai Bhatasara, on behalf of the organisation, argued before the High Court that the law enforcement agents’ conduct was in violation of the organisation’s constitutional rights. The court also heard that police demanded the Magamba staff to disclose passwords to the seized computers.