GWANDA magistrate Sheila Nazombe on Tuesday ordered the State to investigate allegations of assault levelled against the police by two long-distance truck drivers who appeared in court facing charges of assaulting cops and resisting arrest.
Lloyd Musonza (38) and his cousin Maximum Musonza (21) denied resisting arrest or assaulting cops when they appeared at the Gwanda Magistrates’ Court.
In their defence through lawyer Byron Sengweni of Mcijo, Dube and Partners, the cousins said it was instead the police officers who brutally assaulted them and had brought up the charges as a cover up.
Sengweni accused the police of being liars and said he would be producing pictures and videos as evidence to the effect that the cops “butchered” his clients.
The State alleges that on January 31, traffic cops Thomas Nemashakwe, Show Magaisa, Edmore Dzimba and Thembiwe Makore mounted a speed trap in West Nicholson when they caught Maximum speeding. They stopped asked him to pay a spot fine.
It is alleged that his cousin Lloyd disembarked from the haulage truck and urinated nearby. Nemashakwe told him that he was under arrest for urinating in public and asked him to pay another spot fine.
Lloyd refused saying they were in bushy area that could not be deemed to be a public place. Nemashakwe alleged Lloyd resisted arrest and an argument ensued before he was hit by the accused on the left cheek.
Nemashakwe alleged Maximum joined in the scuffle and he and the other three officers fled into the bush. The officers said people on board two commuter omnibuses rescued them from the duo by pelting the cousins with stones.
It is alleged that the Musonza cousins took two police caps, a deployment register and a fine deposit schedule and drove off before they were arrested by the same traffic cops at a roadblock at Makhado after overtaking them on the highway.
However, the defence counsel dismissed Nemashakwe as a liar and a dangerous police officer. Nemashakwe failed to show the court a laceration on his forehead which he claimed to have sustained on the day of the scuffle. Sengweni told the court that Lloyd had a right to refuse to pay the fine as he truly believed he had not urinated in public.
He said Lloyd was severely assaulted by Nemashakwe, Magaisa and Dzimba on the head using handcuffs and bled profusely when the cops tried to retrieve his cellphone which he had used to take a video of the assault. He said the injuries were severe that he had to be admitted at Gwanda Hospital.
In the video, police are seen ordering Lloyd to surrender his cellphone telling him he had no right to take pictures of them. Pictures of Lloyd bleeding profusely after the attack by police would also be produced in court as evidence by the defence.
Sengweni said his clients had taken police property so that it could be used to identify them as they intended to make a report at Beitbridge Police Station. The cousins said they could not report the matter at West Nicholson as they suspected the officers were from that station.
Sengweni told the magistrate that Lloyd had reported the matter to Gwanda police on February 3, but the investigating officer was dragging his feet.
“We appeal to this court that the matter be dealt with expeditiously. We were told the officers will be appearing in court today for assaulting our clients, but nothing has happened,” said Sengweni.
“I have granted the order that the assault allegations be investigated,” replied magistrate Nazombe.
The trial continues on March 4 when State witnesses Magaisa, Makore and Dzimba take to the witness stand.