By Pauline Hurungudo
The High Court has ordered the State to pay $150 000 to human rights activist Jestina Mukoko as compensation for her abduction and torture which she suffered at the hands of State Security agents in 2008.
In a press statement, Zimbabwe Peace Project and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the compensation must be paid by October 31, 2018.
“In a Deed of Settlement endorsed by the High Court, the defendants have been ordered to pay $100 000 to Jestina in respect of her claims while a further $50 000 will be paid as contribution towards her legal costs.
“The court ordered that the total payment of $150 000 must be made on or before October 31, 2018,” the statement said.
Mukoko, through her lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, had taken legal action against the State demanding compensation for her abduction and torture.
This was granted in favour of Mukoko in September 2009 by the Supreme Court.
“In September 2009, the Supreme Court granted a permanent stay of prosecution in favour of …Mukoko due to violation of several fundamental rights by State Security agents as she had been subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment including simulated drowning, being locked in a freezer and being subjected to physical assaults as her tormenters tried to make her confess to plotting to overthrow the administration of Zimbabwe’s former leader, Robert Mugabe.”
The High Court had also ruled that those who had illegally arrested her could also be indicted.
Mukoko said the compensation could not atone for the trauma and suffering she went through at the hands of the agents who had been “ruthless, merciless and very evil.”
“It will not make up for lost time as my liberty and all other human rights accorded to me by virtue of being human were unjustifiably curtailed nor will it provide solace for my traumatised family — my mother, son, brothers, sisters-in-law, extended family, friends and other peace-loving citizens,” Mukoko lamented.
She also stated that this ruling sent a clear and strong signal to Zimbabwean authorities who must guarantee impartial justice to victims and put an end to impunity.
“This settlement comes at a time when the commission of enquiry into post-election violence set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has started its work to establish the facts around the death of six people on 1 August 2018 in Harare after members of the defence forces opened fire against protestors.
“It must be established whether the force used by the members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was proportionate to the threat posed by unarmed protestors,” Mukoko said. Daily News