Police attempted a nightfall raid on former first lady Grace Mugabe’s schools in Mazowe on Thursday saying they were looking for stolen property including generators and transformers, a court has been told.
Documents seen by this publication show that officers went to Grace Mugabe Junior and Senior Schools on April 15 armed with a search and seizure warrant but were blocked by authorities from the Grace Mugabe Foundation who quickly lodged an urgent High Court application seeking an interdict.
The foundation trustees argued in court papers that the warrant could not be executed because it was defective as it had been issued at night. They also said officers arrived around nightfall, yet the warrant did not, as required by the law, specifically permit them to conduct their search at night.
The litigants also argued that if allowed, law enforcement agents would invade the privacy of learners and orphans housed at Amai Mugabe School.
“It was embarrassingly vague for generalizing some of the property using language such as a stolen transformer, a 125kwv generator, 20 wooden cabins,” reads the application.
The trustees also contend that, “the search warrant does not specifically identify the physical address of the place of the intended search and the scope of such parameter especially when viewed against the background that the applicant’s controls related to a limited portion of the land it occupied and the institutions that are under its control on the property.”
The officer in charge of Mazowe Police Station was cited as first respondent while Assistant Inspector Chinwamaruku, and police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga are second and and third respondents respectively.
Jabulani Dumbura, an accountant at Grace Mugabe Foundation said Chinwamaruku arrived in the company of other officers and a person only identified as Danda, who became furious when authorities told to wait for Grace’s lawyers.
“The said Danda who accompanied the police officers became extremely annoyed at this and became flustered. A mild raucous engagement ensued between the two opposite parties, which eventually saw Danda inform Chinwamaruku that he cannot wait for lawyers because he does not operate like that, and apparently commanded Chinwamaruku to leave,” Dumbura wrote in an affidavit.
Chinwamaruku and his search crew then left, and when Grace Mugabe’s lawyers arrived around 6 PM, they followed the police officers at their station.
When confronted by the attorneys, the unnamed officer in charge of Mazowe Police Station threw Chinwamaruku under the bus, telling them he had attempted to execute the search warrant without his knowledge.
“Notwithstanding the arrangements made with the officer in charge, no absolute assurances were given to show that the warrant of search and seizure would not be executed. The threat, therefore, remains and is the reason that this application is being made,” Dumbura submitted.
“This is a critical point that as already expressed, there are students that are currently housed in the learning facilities together with orphans at the orphanage. There has to be a check in the methodology of potentially searching into the private space of students and orphans.
“This court must clamp down on such unfettered powers which will amount to an abrogation of fundamental rights,” Dumbura added, praying for an interdict.
The matter is yet to be heard.