Changala sues State

Civil activist Brebner Changala has sued Government for damages after he was wrongly arrested on allegations of trafficking in drugs weighing 36.35 grams.

Mr Changala, together with his sister Ms Agness Kawandami, a retired nurse, have stated in their statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court that on August 7, 2013 around 05:00 hours till about 14:00 hours, a combined team of officers from the Zambia Police Service, Office of the President and Drug Enforcement Commission conducted an extensive search at the first plaintiff’s  estate at plot  No.11189 Mwinilunga Road in Kabwata which he shared with Ms Kawandami.

Mr Changala indicated that a further search was conducted at his business premises in Chinika area in Lusaka.

He said during the search his liberty was restricted from the stated time as he was under control of the Government officers.

Mr Changala added that his Ipad, laptop, two fire arms and several documents were seized while Ms Kawandami’s Vermox tablets were also seized.

And following the seizure of the Vermox tablets, Mr Changala and Ms Kawandami were arrested on August10 the same year on allegations that they were allegedly found in possession of 36.35 grams of prohibited psychotropic substances.

They remained in police cells till August 19 and appeared in the Lusaka Magistrates Court before Ms Aridah Chuulu for plea and both denied the charge.

On August 22 and 23 without prior notice to their counsel on record, they were informed that the Director of Public Prosecutions had entered a nolle prosequi against them and the criminal matter was discontinued.

Mr Changala indicated that later after the discharge the Drug Enforcement Commissioner confirmed that the drugs which were seized were not methylene-dioxine-methaphetamine as alleged by the State but were Vermox tablets used for deworming.

He said while he was in custody, two officers, a Mr Silutongwe and Mr Anderson Situmbeko, forced him to admit that the drugs they seized were prohibited psychotropic substances and that he was trafficking in drugs.

Mr Changala charged that they were wrongfully and without reasonable and probable cause arrested by the State on suspicion of having trafficked in prohibited psychotropic substances and there were no reasonable grounds leading to their arrest.

He submitted that DEC fabricated evidence to the effect that the plaintiffs did traffic in 36.35 grams of  methylene-dioxine-methaphetamine which was not true. The duo prayed for the court’s indulgence for damages including aggravated and exemplary damages for false imprisonment.

The plaintiffs are claiming damages for mental torture and emotional distress, mental anguish, inconvenience and embarrassment.

They are also claiming damages for breach of privacy, confidentiality and other relief that the court may deem fit.