By Tarisai Machakaire
Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema and commissioner-general of police Godwin Matanga will each face 90 days’ imprisonment if they fail to comply with a High Court order compelling them to compensate a victim of wrongful arrest.
Mathema and Matanga were found in contempt of court by Justice Benjamin Chikowero and ordered to pay $18 075 with prescribed interest within 14 days or go to jail.
“The respondents be and are hereby held to be in contempt of court…shall pay $18 075 together with interest at the prescribed rate from the date of summons to the date of full payment and cost of suit within 14 days of this order failing which they must each be committed to imprisonment for 90 days,” reads the order.
Pro-democracy activist Cynthia Manjoro filed the suit in 2011 claiming she suffered torture and other abuses by police officers.
The police initially entered special pleas to Manjoro’s claim arguing that in terms of the Police Act, any civil proceedings instituted against the State or member in respect of a claim such as the one brought by the pro-democracy activist should be commenced within eight months after the cause of action has arisen.
But the High Court threw out the argument, ruling that the police were answerable to Manjoro’s unlawful arrest and assault.
In her court papers filed on her behalf by Jeremiah Bamu and Fiona Iliff from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Manjoro, who was arrested together with 28 others, said that she was wrongfully arrested on charges of murdering police inspector Petros Mutedza in May 2011.
She was arrested because her car was spotted at the murder scene. Despite telling the police that she was attending a church service at the material time and was not present at the scene, the police went on to detain her.
She told the police that her boyfriend Darlington Madzanga was the one who was in possession of the car at the material time. Following her arrest, she was denied bail, which resulted in her spending seven months in remand prison. Manjoro was subsequently brought before the courts and acquitted in September 2013.
“During her detention in police custody, she was subjected to routine and incessant questioning by a number of police detectives and during this interrogation, the plaintiff was subjected to assaults and torture and particularly received incessant assaults on her knees with a baton.
“As a consequence of these beatings, the plaintiff had to undergo an operation on her knees to drain pus that had accumulated.
“She is therefore entitled to damages for assault, contumelia, pain, shock and suffering arising from these acts,” the court heard. DailyNews