Tendai Kamhungira 3 May 2017
HARARE – Human rights activist Okay Machisa has dragged the Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) to the High Court in a bid to stop the law
enforcement agents from throwing spikes at moving vehicles.
In the application, Machisa – represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights – cited police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, as respondents.
Machisa, who is the national director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Association, told the court that the use of spikes by the police poses a
danger to the public.
“I am concerned that despite their (spikes) potential to cause grievous
harm to persons and property, the use of these devices is not governed by
any legislation with individual police officers retaining discretion to
decide when to deploy them,” he said.
“Consequently, the use of spikes is arbitrary and unregulated, resulting
in some members of the ZRP using them in situations which may lead to loss
of life and property in clear violation of the obligation to use
justifiable force in effecting arrest,” Machisa said.
He said the application is in terms of Section 85 (1) (d) of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe, which gives him the right to approach the court
in cases of public interest and where fundamental rights need to be
“I am advised by my legal practitioners, which advice I accept that the
indiscriminate use of spikes by members of the ZRP who fall within the
control of the first and second respondents (Chihuri and Chombo) is
illegal and unconstitutional,” he said.
Machisa added, “I am advised . . . that the use of force is justifiable
only if the person sought to be arrested was committing or had committed,
or was suspected of having committed an offence referred to in the first
schedule. The most common traffic offences are fineable and do not fall
within the ambit of the first schedule offences for which use of force is
He further said the police are using spikes in circumstances where it is
not reasonably justifiable to do so.
“The current state of affairs where spikes are deployed without
compunction is a violation of the right to administrative justice as set
out in section 68 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for
administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable,
proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair.”
Machisa is now seeking a prohibitory interdict banning the use of spikes
by the ZRP.