Police Officer Secretly Telephones Same Suspect He Arrested
6 March 2024
Spread the love

By Dorrothy Moyo | In a striking development that has ignited a nationwide conversation on the methods employed by law enforcement in conducting investigations, a local city lawyer has raised significant concerns over the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s practice of telephoning suspects as part of their investigative procedures. The issue came to light during the bail hearing of Michael Ndebele, a suspect involved in multiple cases of fraud, drawing attention to the broader implications of police conduct and the adherence to legal standards in criminal investigations.

### The Case That Sparked Debate

Michael Ndebele, accused of defrauding several grain millers of thousands of dollars through botched deals, became the focal point of a legal and ethical debate when Mr. Tinashe Tashaya of Sengweni Legal Service challenged the police’s method of contacting him. During the cross-examination, it was revealed that the police had attempted to summon Ndebele to the police station over the phone, a tactic that Detective Sergeant Clever Zaranyika defended as necessary due to Ndebele’s perceived lack of cooperation and risk of absconding.

### Legal and Ethical Questions

The practice, as Mr. Tashaya pointed out, is not explicitly supported by law, suggesting that the police’s reliance on phone calls to engage with suspects might not only be unconventional but potentially illegal. The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, as cited by Tashaya, requires formal processes such as summons or warrants for such engagements, casting doubt on the legality of telephonic invitations to suspects to present themselves at police stations.

### Police Perspective and Practices

Despite these criticisms, Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube and an anonymous senior police officer defended the practice. They argued that telephoning suspects forms part of their efforts to conduct thorough investigations, allowing suspects to voluntarily present themselves without implying immediate arrest. This approach, they claim, is a practical measure in the pursuit of justice, though it raises questions about the balance between effective law enforcement and adherence to legal protocols.

### The Broader Implications

This case underscores a critical dilemma facing modern law enforcement: how to effectively investigate and prevent crime while strictly adhering to legal and ethical standards. The debate over telephoning suspects reflects broader concerns about privacy, consent, and the lawful interception of communications, issues that resonate not only in Zimbabwe but around the world. With laws and norms varying significantly across jurisdictions, the challenge lies in finding a universally acceptable balance between the imperatives of justice and the rights of individuals.

### Moving Forward

As the legal community and the public grapple with these questions, the case of Michael Ndebele serves as a catalyst for a necessary dialogue on police practices, legal standards, and the protection of civil liberties. The controversy not only highlights the need for clarity and uniformity in law enforcement procedures but also emphasizes the importance of transparency, accountability, and public trust in the justice system. As this debate unfolds, it will undoubtedly influence future policies and practices, potentially leading to significant reforms in the way law enforcement operates within the bounds of the law and ethical considerations.