Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter—
Brutally assaulting villagers and denying them food and water while in holding cells has backfired on the police after a court ordered them to pay damages to the tune of $4 700. Six men from Chinyamukwakwa Village in Chisumbanje were rounded up by the police over violence allegations at a local private farming entity called Macdom Estates. The arresting officers approached the six who were working in their fields and indiscriminately assaulted them with batons all over the body, accusing them of masterminding violent acts at Macdom Estates.
As a result of the assault, the six sustained injuries, but they were never taken to hospital. Instead, the police officers took them to Chisumbanje Police Station where they were detained without any food or water.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights engaged a team of lawyers comprising Mr Langton Mhungu, Ms Peggy Tavagadza and Mr Blessing Nyamaropa to represent the six villagers.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and a police officer identified as Mazarura were listed as defendants in the summons.
Chipinge magistrate Mr Poterai Gwezhira found that the police had unlawfully attacked the defenceless villagers and injured them.
“The plaintiffs managed to prove their case on a balance of probabilities that they were assaulted by police details while at Chinyamukwakwa Village allegedly over a dispute between villagers and a private entity known as Macdom Estates,” ruled Mr Gwezhira.
“There was recklessness of some sort in the manner the police details executed their duties at the time as they ended up injuring villagers who were carrying out their farming activities in their fields.
“The treatment the plaintiffs received while in detention at Chisumbanje Police Station is clearly out of sync with the expected minimum standards in a civilised society.”
To that end, Mr Gwezhira ordered the police to pay the damages.
“Accordingly, judgment is entered for the plaintiffs and against the defendants as follows:
“There will be an order for the plaintiffs against the defendants jointly and severally, the one paying the other to be absolved for:
1.payment of the sum of $500 for pain and suffering to each plaintiff.
2. payment of the sum of $901,80 for pain and suffering to Vaina Ndhlovu, $735 to Samson Muyambo and $60 to Chipo Shiripinda being medical expenses incurred”.
The magistrate further ordered the defendants to pay costs of the suit.
Initially, the six were claiming $800 each, but the court found it too much and unjustified.
Pictures showing the injuries suffered by the victims were presented in court as evidence that indeed the six were assaulted.