Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga escaped serving jail time after paying ZWL$140 000 to a woman who was teargassed by police officers in 2019.
In 2019, a Harare magistrate ordered Kazembe and Matanga to compensate the woman but they have been avoiding doing so for the past three years.
They only compensated the woman recently after she filed an application at the High Court seeking an order for contempt of court against the duo in 2021.
A statement issued by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on the matter reads:
NEGLIGENT ZRP PAYS THE PRICE FOR TEAR-GASSING WOMAN
ZIMBABWE Republic Police (ZRP) has paid more than ZWL140 000 as compensation to a Harare woman who was tear-gassed by some law enforcement agents three years ago.
Fifty-eight-year-old Mavis Muzari was left nursing injuries and hospitalised at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals after four slipshod ZRP officers indiscriminately threw a tear gas canister inside a commuter omnibus which landed on her lap.
As a result of the negligent police conduct, Muzari was left bleeding from her nose, suffered high blood pressure, sustained a serious injury to her foot including some bruises and felt pain all over her body.
This compelled her to engage Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in 2019 to sue ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe for damages amounting to ZWL142 170 for violation of her fundamental rights including loss of income, pain and suffering, embarrassment, humiliation and future medical expenses.
Since 2019, ZRP and Hon. Kazembe had vacillated to compensate Muzari and in 2021 she filed an application at the High Court seeking an order for contempt of court against Hon. Kazembe and Matanga and asking them to comply with the Harare Magistrate Court’s decision compelling them to pay a judgment debt of ZWL142 170.
Now, Matanga and Hon. Kazembe have evaded serving jail time after the law enforcement agency notified Chinopfukutwa and provided proof of payment indicating that it had settled Muzari’s judgment debt.
Muzari is the latest person among dozens of people who in recent years have won compensation from ZRP after suing for damages arising from the violation of their rights as a result of the wayward conduct of some police officers in the execution of their law enforcement duties.