January 2019 protests: Judge orders $4,3 million compensation for slain footballer

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By Costa Nkomo 

HIGH Court judge Edith Mushore Wednesday ordered Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga, his junior Constable Rachid Siri and Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe to pay ZWL$4.3 million as compensation to the Choto family.

This follows the unlawful shooting and killing of Kelvin Tinashe Choto in January 2019 during anti-government protests.

The 2019 protests, a culmination of bottled anger by crisis weary Zimbabweans, were ignited by an unpopular fuel price hike announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The protests were held in a number of cities and towns in the country but their intensity was felt more in Harare and Bulawayo where wild scenes of looting and vandalism elicited a brutal reaction by the State, leading to the killing of over a dozen civilians, among them Kelvin Choto.

Choto, a footballer and a bystander at the time, was shot and he died on the 14th of January 2019 during the clashes between the police and protesters in Chitungwiza.

According to the court judgement, his wife Varaidzo Chiyanike, father Julius Choto and his child Anenyasha Janelle Choto are listed as beneficiaries of the compensation, which is equivalent to US$56 000, based on the official rate of exchange.

The court papers indicate the breakdown of the compensation as ZWL$2,016,000 in terms of loss of support for minor child Anenyasha Janelle Choto, ZWL$2,016,000 as loss of support for widow Varaidzo Chiyanike and ZWL$168,000 for nervous shock and trauma for Varaidzo Chiyanike.

Also an amount of ZWL$168,000 has been awarded for “nervous shock and trauma” for the father Julius Choto as well as “interest” on the total sum of $4,638,000.

The Choto family was represented by Fiona Iliff from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Iliff told after judgement was passed that she was pleased with the outcome.

“These were the amounts we claimed in the amended summons and declaration and we were awarded the full amounts. We are very pleased that they granted the amounts claimed,” she said.

While the court did not give a deadline for payment to be effected, Iliff said she was optimistic the payment will be made soon, otherwise she will approach the court if there was delay.

Speaking after the High Court ruling, Kelvin’s wife, Varaidzo said the compensation will not come any closer to replacing her husband.