THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) faces a damaging lawsuit after its officers caused a deadly accident by throwing spikes in front of a moving commuter minibus resulting in severe injuries early this month.   
Lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have since written to the ZRP Officer Commanding Bulawayo Province informing the law enforcement agency of a pending legal suit from Immaculate Ndlovu, Esnath Phiri, Ntandoyenkosi Nkomo, and Nokuthula Mabhena who are “battling for their life at Mpilo Hospital”. The four were seriously injured on 12 March 2014 along Khami Road after the minibus they were travelling in was involved in an accident. “On this unfortunate day your officers acted in gross negligence in throwing spikes in front of a moving commuter omnibus full of passengers. This led to the vehicle’s tyres being deflated and consequently the driver of the vehicle losing control of the vehicle which overturned and innocent passengers were injured in varying degrees as a consequence to the accident,” said ZLHR’s Lizwe Jamela in a letter dated 28 March, 2014.
“In as much as we understand the law enforcement mandate of your officers, we believe that your officers acted in a very unreasonable way under the circumstances as there are several ways in which the driver would have been pursued or apprehended without endangering the safety and lives of the innocent passengers. As we write to you now our clients are still battling for their lives at Mpilo Hospital with varying degrees of injuries. This further exposes them to huge medical bills in addition to the pain and suffering they continue to go through as a result of the accident which we believe could have been avoided had your officers acted reasonably and responsibly. We thus are of the view that you should take responsibility for the actions of your officers.”
He said the injured were assessing damages in preparation for the legal suit. The human lawyer gave police 14 days to respond to his letter. “We
hope that you will take time to positively consider this complaint, strongly believing that you will make efforts to get to the bottom of this matter and move towards taking responsibility for the consequences of your officers’ actions,” said Jamela in the letter was copied to Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi.
Following media reports about the commuter omnibus accident caused by police officers throwing spikes in front of a moving vehicle we made a call
to all the victims and relatives to approach our offices for
assistance. We have started to  attend to relatives who are representing their loved ones who are still battling for their lives at Mpilo Hospital. So far we attended to three representatives for three victims.
Meanwhile may colleagues assist with any contributions relevant to how best to strategically  proceed with the case. We will also be arranging to visit the victims at the hospital in a bid to make arrangements to get their medical records for safekeeping.  Funny enough, the 23 year old driver of the Kombi also made it to our offices. He is facing allegations of reckless driving. Considering that the accident was as a result of the spikes thrown by police that saw him loose control where can we place him? Victim or perpetrator?
In S v MPOFU (1) 1985 (1) ZLR 187 (SC) Dumbutshena specifically said "The setting up of roadblocks by police or military authorities is an inherently dangerous operation. It is necessary that members be given adequate instructions and equipment so as to minimise danger to the public, failing  E  which responsibility for tragedies at a roadblock may well rest on the shoulders of superiors.
The case of S v NEL AND ANOTHER 1980 (4) SA 28 (E) is also instructive. In that matter two police officers were convicted of murder after firing at a motorist who had mistakenly failed to stop at a roadblock.
While the conduct of the driver is relevant the dicta in S v Nel suggests that it does not exonerate the Police.
© Copyright ZLHR 2013