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Govt ordered to pay teacher over 2019 police brutality

A Zimbabwean court has ordered authorities to pay ZWL200 000 (US$571 on the parallel market) to a teacher who was arrested, tortured and abused by some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers three years ago.

Munyaradzi Masiyiwa, who is employed as a teacher and is the Deputy Secretary-General of Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), was arrested by ZRP officers on 16 August 2019 at Market Square bus terminus in Harare as he was waiting to board a commuter omnibus to go to his residence.

The ZRP officers mistook Masiyiwa, who was wearing a red-shirt for an opposition MDC party supporter on a day when the Nelson Chamisa-led party had organised an anti-government protest to press President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to arrest the country’s worsening economic crisis.

ZRP officers handcuffed Masiyiwa and bundled him into their truck and severely assaulted and tortured him while he lay on his abdomen with truncheons all over his body before instructing him to make coital movements and simulate as if he was having sexual intercourse with the ZRP vehicle.

The law enforcement agents then detained Masiyiwa at Harare Central Police Station in a small and overcrowded cell, where they continued assaulting him and also denied him food before charging him with committing public violence.

Upon arrival at Harare Central Prison after he was remanded in custody, Masiyiwa was ordered by prison officers to strip naked and to jump up and down with his hands in the air. While in prison, the ARTUZ leader was also denied food by prison officers such that when he returned to court on 19 August 2019 he collapsed during court proceedings and was only allowed to have food at that point. He was eventually cleared of the public violence charges on 7 October 2019.

This prompted Masiyiwa to engage Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who sued ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi and Commissioner-General of Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Moses Chihobvu and a police officer only identified as Jambaya for ZWL200 000 in damages for pain and suffering, trauma, contumelia, embarrassment and humiliation.

During trial, Masiyiwa argued that he had been severely abused and humiliated by the conduct of ZRP and ZPCS officers.

This resulted in Harare Magistrate Victoria Mashamba ordering Matanga, Kazembe, Ziyambi, Chihobvu and Jambaya to pay ZWL200 000 as compensation for the ill-treatment of Masiyiwa broken down as ZWL100 000 for pain and suffering and ZWL100 000 for embarrassment, affront to dignity, humiliation and contumelia. Zim Morning Post

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