BY MOSES MATENGA
HUMAN rights lawyer Douglas Coltart will sue the police for assaulting and detaining him during a protest by teachers last year.
Coltart, who has been arrested a number of times for his activism, was severely beaten up by police offices during a protest organised by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) in August last year.
Artuz members were picketing Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s offices over poor salaries when the police officers pounced on them and Coltart. He was arrested together with eight teachers and a journalist.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has since written to Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and the police notifying them of Coltart’s impending lawsuit.
“Our client Douglas Coltart was lawfully filming the incident for evidentiary purposes when a police officer grabbed him and tried to wrench his phone away from him, while calling for other police officers to arrest him for filming,” the lawyers said in a notice sent to Kazembe.
“He repeatedly informed the police officers that he was a lawyer and asked for the reason for his arrest, to which they did not respond.
“Our client was surrounded by a large number of police officers, who grabbed his arms and legs, handcuffed him tightly, pushed him to the ground and began assaulting him, kicking him with their boots .
“He sustained injuries to his head, arm and legs, including cuts and nerve injuries to his wrists. His glasses were also broken during the process.”
The lawyers said Coltart was not told of the reason behind his arrest and the officers refused to identify themselves..
Coltart and the other accused persons were detained overnight under inhuman conditions.
“The arrest, detention and wanton and excessive use of force by the police in this matter is clearly unjustifiable and unlawful in the circumstances,” the lawyers added.
“In addition to violating section 21 of the schedule to the Police Act, the police actions constitute gross human rights violations in terms of the constitution and international law, particularly the right to human dignity and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment.”
Coltart, the lawyers said, will claim damages for pain and suffering, contumelia, nervous shock, loss of income, financial loss, including medical expenses, and constitutional damages.