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Zimbabwean Files $3 Million Lawsuit Against Minister Kazembe, Police Chief Over Brutal Assault During COVID-19 Lockdown

FILE: Police in in Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
FILE: Police in in Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A 63 year-old Bulawayo resident is suing the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner-General, Godwin Matanga, and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Kazembe Kazembe, for RTGS$3 million as compensation for violation of her fundamental rights after she was allegedly brutally assaulted by police during last year’s COVID-19 national lockdown.

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Lydia Chapalapata, of Nkulumane high-density suburb, was allegedly assaulted by Assistant Inspector Brighton Muchingami on April 1, 2020, while she was queuing to purchase maize meal at Nkulumane Sekusile Shopping Centre.

Muchingambi allegedly harassed and assaulted her all over her body with a truncheon claiming that she was violating national lockdown regulations.

The ZLHR says Muchingambi threatened Chapalapata stating “there was no recourse at law for her as he was empowered by the national lockdown regulations promulgated by government to assault her.

“Chapalapata sustained injuries on her back, thighs, head, and on her knees and suffered trauma, anxiety and shock as a result of the incident and had to be hospitalised at Mpilo Central Hospital for treatment and was later referred for specialized medical attention.”

Following the assault, Chapalapata engaged Prisca Dube of the ZLHR, who recently filed summons at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court suing Muchingami, the Officer in Charge of Nkulumane Police Station, Matanga and Kazembe, whom she cited as respondents, claiming payment of damages amounting to RTGS$3 million for pain and suffering as well as medical expenses she incurred.

In her summons, the ZLHR says, the Bulawayo resident is claiming that as a result of the defendants’ conduct, “she suffered damages amounting to RTGS$3 million broken down as RTGS$2.5 million being damages for pain and suffering, trauma and nervous shock while RTGS$500,000 will cater for future medical expenses.”

Muchingami, Matanga and Kazembe were unreachable for comment. The Zimbabwean government announced soon after it announced its first COVID-19 lockdown measures that it would punish those that broke the regulations. Thousands of people have been arrested since the outbreak of the disease in Zimbabwe in 2020, according to police reports.

The Ministry of Health also reports that as at June 10, 2021, Zimbabwe had 39,496 confirmed cases, 36,940 recoveries and 1,626 deaths.