A Zimbabwean court has ordered Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema and Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga to pay more than US$13,000 in damages to 64 year-old Lillian Chinyerere as compensation for the pain she suffered in 2016 after some anti-riot police officers assaulted her during an anti-government protest.
High Court Judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi granted an order compelling Mathema and Matanga to pay damages to Chinyerere for the pain and suffering she endured when some armed riot police officers kicked her repeatedly with booted feet and struck her several times with truncheons, while she was sitting near a courthouse in Harare.
According to summons filed in the High Court by her lawyers Kudzayi Kadzere and David Hofisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights or ZLHR, Chinyerere, who suffers from high blood pressure and is diabetic, suffered the “ignominy of a brutal assault on her aging body in full view of the public and also suffered physical harm as well as harm to her dignity as she was humiliated in full view of the public.”
The lawyers say she suffered injuries to her back and shoulder and was unable to proceed with her job as a tailor due to the injuries sustained and has since been relying on well-wishers for her sustenance.
Kadzere told VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that in court, Matanga and Mathema, who were represented by lawyers from the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s Office, had denied the allegations levelled against ZRP officers and claimed that she had made the assault allegations “in a bid to tarnish the image of ZRP.”
But according to court papers, Justice Mathonsi ordered Matanga and Mathema to pay $13,500 to Chinyerere broken down as $5,000 for damages for pain and suffering, $5,000 being damages for contumelia (indignity), $2,500 being special damages for loss of income and $1,000 as damages for past and future medical expenses.
HISTORY OF RIGHTS ABUSES
In April this year, a Plumtree magistrate ordered the police and a commuter omnibus driver to compensate a Bulawayo commuter Constance Tshuma, more than US$4,000 after she was shot on the foot by a police officer at a roadblock in Plumtree in 2014.
Tshuma, who was a passenger in a commuter omnibus, engaged the ZHLR to claim compensation after her foot was seriously damaged when a police officer allegedly recklessly fired a shot towards the vehicle at a road block in Plumtree to force the driver of a commuter omnibus she was traveling in to stop.
In another incident in June, Harare High Court judge Justice Pisirai Kwenda awarded Robson Pumero, a victim of police brutality, $17,172.18 as damages for shock, pain and suffering.
The four perpetrators George Pukayi, Officer Gwasunda, Officer Matenga and Officer Bhunu of CID Marlborough are required to pay the amount in their own personal capacities.
The four perpetrators are reported to have detained Pumero in September 2017 alleging that he had played a role in the robberies committed by his former neighbor.
The officers, who were drinking, assaulted Pumero with beer and soft drink bottles on his hands, shoulders, ankles and knees. They then transported him to the police station where they continued assaulting him using a baton stick with a metal handle until he could not walk. He was released after two days in the cells with no charges leveled against him.
Pumero was represented by Mr. Kenias Shonhai, a lawyer at the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. Prior to his ouster, former President Robert Mugabe, according to Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups, had for decades allegedly presided over intensified repression of the opposition using torture and extrajudicial killings at times.
They claimed that his administration disregarded provisions in the country’s 2013 constitution, and implemented no meaningful human rights reforms. A coalition of Zimbabwean human rights groups, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to end abuses allegedly perpetrated by the police.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, which represents 22 organizations, says police officers are still using arbitrary arrests to intimidated perceived government of the opponents.
Zimbabwe has not acceded to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment nor the statute of the International Criminal Court.