A TOP Zimbabwean retailer has been slapped with a US$30 000 lawsuit by a man, who is demanding payment of damages as compensation for causing his unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution over unfounded allegations of pilfery.
In April 2023, Farai Chakawa, a resident of Victoria Falls in Matabeleland North province, who was visiting in Harare and who intended to buy some goods at TM Pick n Pay Joina City retail shop in the capital city, was arrested by a vindictive employee of the retail giant, who unsuccessfully tried to block him from purchasing some goods after telling him that he was not allowed inside the retail supermarket.
Chakawa queried why he was not being allowed in the retail outlet and Stanford Nyamukoroso, an employee of TM Pick n Pay Zimbabwe, told him that this was because he had arbitrarily decided to just do so.
A cashier at the liquor store counter, located within TM Pick n Pay Zimbabwe Joina City retail shop, pleaded with Nyamukoroso to let Chakawa purchase what he wanted and he eventually bought a soft drink and his bottle of whisky.
As Chakawa was leaving the counter, Nyamukoroso grabbed him by the waist while holding him by his belt and pulled him into a private room, where he handcuffed him and subsequently advised him that he was going to be detained in some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) cells that day because he had purchased goods in a TM Pick n Pay Zimbabwe retail outlet against his will.
Nyamukoroso then took Chakawa to Harare Central Police Station, where he was charged with disorderly conduct and asked to pay a fine for disorderly conduct. Chakawa declined to pay the fine protesting that he had not committed any offence.
He was subsequently detained at Harare Central Police Station for two days before being taken to Harare Magistrates Court, where he stood trial on charges of disorderly conduct.
But in May 2023, criminal proceedings brought against Chakawa were terminated after he was acquitted of charges of disorderly conduct.
After the acquittal, Chakawa engaged Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who on Wednesday 10 January 2024, filed summons at Harare Magistrates (Civil) Court against TM Pick n Pay Zimbabwe, Nyamukoroso, ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Home Affairs, Cultural and Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe, demanding compensation amounting to US$30 000 for causing his unlawful arrest, detention, malicious prosecution and humiliation.
Out of a total of US$30 000 that Chakawa is demanding, US$10 000 will be damages for malicious prosecution, US$10 000 will be damages for unlawful arrest and detention while US$10 000 will be damages for humiliation, embarrassment and affront to dignity as a result of the unlawful arrest, detention and malicious prosecution.
Chinopfukutwa argued that at the time Nyamukoroso handcuffed Chakawa and instigated the criminal complaint against him, there was no probable cause that he had committed the offence of disorderly conduct as he was merely a customer seeking to purchase products from the retail outlet.
The human rights lawyer faulted Nyamukoroso for acting with premeditated malice in setting into motion the arrest and subsequent prosecution of Chakawa.
Chinopfukutwa said since Nyamukoroso was acting within the scope and course of his employment with TM Pick n Pay Zimbabwe, the retailer is vicariously liable to compensate Chakawa for the damages that he suffered as a result of the employee’s unlawful actions.
The human rights lawyer argued that the malicious arrest and prosecution of Chakawa greatly impaired his reputation and dignity and that the allegations of disorderly conduct tended to cast him as an errant trouble causer and busy body hence he was embarrassed and humiliated by the baseless criminal allegations, which were levelled against him.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
No. 103 Sam Nujoma Street, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: (+263 8677005347, +263 242 764085/705370/708118
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