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Resident sues State over police brutality he suffered during COVID-19 enforcement

A LUSAKA resident has sued the State for police brutality he suffered at a bar during enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.

David Sikananu, who has sued the State in the Lusaka High Court and has cited the Attorney General in the matter, is seeking a declaration that the police officers had no right under the COVID-19 regulations or any other laws or regulations to humiliate, assault, torture him or subject him to inhuman degrading treatment or punishment.

In his statement of claim, Sikananu stated that on April 22, this year, around 17:30 hours, he went to a bar called Kimata at Big Jose market in Obama to play a game of billiards, which was not a contact sport.

Sikananu said whilst at the same bar around 18:30 hours, four unknown police officers from Chelstone Police Station who were enforcing the COVID-19 health regulations (SI no 22 of 2020) descended on the bar and beat him up and other patrons using a plank and a truncheon.
“Upon gaining entry into the bar, the Zambia police officers (one plain clothed officer brandishing a plank with metal or sharp objects, another brandishing a truncheon, a uniformed officer brandishing an AK47 rifle and another plain clothed officer manning one of the doors to the bar) ordered Sikananu, together with the other patrons in the bar to sit down on the floor which was filthy, and while hurling insults at every one who was found in the bar, took turns in unlawfully beating or assaulting Sikananu and the other patrons using the said plank and truncheon,” reads the statement of claim.

He alleged that he was repeatedly beaten on his arms, hands and feet to which he sustained deep cuts and bled profusely, and experienced excruciating pain.

Sikanunu contended that he was unlawfully humiliated, assaulted, tortured and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by the police officers as he was wrongfully imprisoned and deprived of his freedom for 30 minutes.

He said that the said police officers had no right whatsoever under the COVID-19 regulations or any other laws to humiliate, assault, torture, confine or detain him (Sikanunu) in the manner they did on the material day.

“By reason of the confinement, the plaintiff sustained great anxiety and suffered loss and damage, the conduct by the Zambia police officers was arbitrary, oppressive and unconstitutional,” he stated.

“As a result, the plaintiff’s human rights were without any lawful justification whatsoever grossly violated by the Zambia police officers.”

Sikanunu now wants a declaration that the police had no right to violate his rights under the guise of enforcing the COVID-19 regulations or any other laws or regulations applicable in Zambia or any other directive for enforcing measures for the prevention of COVID-19.

Sikananu wants an order that the medical report form dated the April 23, 2020 be corrected to reflect the fact that he was beaten or assaulted by the police officers.

He is further seeking damages for false imprisonment, including exemplary damages, damages for injuries sustained and interest on the damages aforesaid.

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