A farmer has sued the State in the Lusaka High Court seeking damages and an order that he was falsely imprisoned for 312 days on allegations of murder.
Sambwa Chifwambwa is further seeking special damages for loss of agricultural crops during the period of his unlawful detention, saying as a result of his incarceration, his spouse and all his workers deserted his farm in Lusaka West.
In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, December 7, Sambwa Chifwambwa, who has sued the Attorney General, stated that he was a Zambian citizen who was unlawfully detained for 312 days, firstly at Westwood Police Station for 52 days, and later at Lusaka Central Correction Facility for 260 days.
“On August 6, 2016, the plaintiff was arrested by police officers from Westwood Police Station on unsubstantiated allegation of the murder of Lent Hamalambo and was kept in police custody for 52 days until September 28, 2016, when he was transferred to Lusaka Central Correction facility,” read the statement of claim.
Chifwambwa stated that he shall aver at trial that his detention in police custody for 52 days was unlawful and became unlawful when he remained in police custody for such a long time.
He stated that he remained in detention until June 14, 2017, when the Director of Public Prosecution entered a nolle prosequi and later turned him into a State witness against the now-accused persons for the murder of Hamalambo.
Chifwambwa disclosed that as a result of his incarceration, which eventually became unlawful, his spouse and all his workers deserted his farm in Lusaka West.
He added that he had suffered loss and damages to his farm produces.
“The plaintiff shall also aver at trial that during his detention, all his workers deserted the farm, and his spouse also left the farm due to fear and the shame that came with unsubstantiated allegation of murder. By reason of the matters aforesaid, the plaintiff suffered loss and damages to his farm plants and produces,” read the statement of claim.
“Particulars of damages to the farm plants; 50 stations of papayas; 200 stations of bananas; 58 stations of Moringa trees all valued at K50,000 were wiped out due to lack of care in my absence. Loss of 25 fruit-bearing citrus trees out of 155 trees; four avocado trees; three dried Mexican Apple trees; six dried guava trees; several exotic plants, all valued at K23,000.”
Chifwambwa further stated that during the period of detention, his farming equipment, valued at K35,000, were either vandalized or stolen.
He also added that during the entire episode of his detention, he was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of the police officers with the intention that he should confess as the murderer.
“On two occasions, I was stripped naked. My eyes were subjected to bright light, such that I can no longer look without prescribed sunglasses, which I can hardly afford,” read the statement of claim.
Chifwambwa stated that as the result of his arrest and detention, his story was still fresh and was still taking turns within the neighbouring farms, adding that he had continued to live in shame and had sustained great anxiety.
He is now seeking a declaration or an order that he was falsely imprisoned when he was detained for 52 days at Westwood Police Station and 260 days at Lusaka Central Correction facility; damages for false imprisonment; special damages for loss of agricultural crops during the period of his detention; interest, costs and any other damages the court may deem fit.