Soldier sues bosses over detention
A SOLDIER has taken the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to court challenging his detention at Mutare Central Remand Prison for allegedly absconding from work.
Blessing Chipanda through its lawyers Dube, Mguni and Dube Legal Practitioners, last Wednesday filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court citing ZNA Commander Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda and the Commander of Mutare 3 Brigade as the respondents.
He is seeking an order directing the respondents to facilitate his immediate release from the remand prison pending trial at a military court.
Chipanda, in his founding affidavit, said his two-month detention at a remand prison in Mutare was a violation of his constitutional rights. “I have been in custody since May 4, 2016, both under military custody and remand prison without trial. My constitutional rights have been violated in that I have been detained for more than 48 hours and have not been brought before any court of law. There is no legal framework allowing for indefinite detentions under our laws,” he said.
Chipanda wants the court to order his immediate release from custody and have him summoned to attend the court martial whenever it is ready to deal with his case.
“I’m advised by my legal practitioner that I am entitled to my immediate release in terms of section 50 (3) of the Constitution. Such violation still persists and I have been advised by army officials that I am supposed to be taken to Harare for court martial, but however, they indicated to me that they are not sure as to when they would receive a signal from the Defence Forces Legal Services Directorate to take me there,” he said.
He also alleged that his lawyer was denied the warrant of his committal and other relevant papers required to prepare his defence because the date of the martial-court has not yet been confirmed
Chipanda said he developed a mental illness on the day he was supposed to return to work prompting him to seek assistance from prophets.
“I had travelled to my rural home in Karoi when I developed a mental problem on January 24 and I had to seek the intervention of prophets after failing to get help from clinics and hospitals,” he said.
Chipanda said he only managed to return to work on May 2 and he was immediately put under closed arrest for deserting.
The army has not yet filed opposing papers.