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Lawyers slam detentions

Munyaradzi Wasosa

THE Law Society of Zimbabwe has criticised the police for the rise in arbitrary arrests and detention of suspects.

“>In a statement on Tuesday the society’s president, Joseph James, deplored what he called unnecessary arrests and detentions.

“There has been an increasing tendency to arrest and detain persons who are facing relatively minor offences,” James said.

“In fact, the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has pointed out that the detention of a person who has been arrested should only be effected where it is necessary.”

James said according to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act Chapter 9:07, detention was only necessary for serious crimes.

“The Act says detention can only be effected in situations such as when the alleged wrongdoer is a threat to society, or he or she may abscond or is facing serious charges,” he said.

James cited the arrest of school heads over school fees in April which he described as unnecessary.

“It is in this vein that the arrest and detention of persons such as headmasters who are employees of schools, and board members of media organisations is to be deplored,” James said.

James also said the arrest and detention of people for minor offences over weekends constituted abuse of power by the police.

“The police arrest and detain the accused persons just before or over the weekends, and this is unnecessary and uncalled for,” he said.

In an interview yesterday, James, himself a criminal lawyer, said weekend arrests led to accused people being held for more than the normal period of detention of 48 hours, which constituted an infringement of their rights.

“In many instances of weekend arrests, the detention period is exceeded because the police know it is difficult for the accused to find a lawyer during weekends,” James said.

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