Military crackdown: Muchinguri, Mathema, army, police hit with fresh $3,5 million lawsuit

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) have been slapped with a $3, 5 million lawsuit as more civilians mount claims following episodes of a brutal crakdown by security forces that have accompanied two ill-fated protests since last year.

Last week, more than 10 individuals filed summons against Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and her Home Affairs counterpart Cain Mathema, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga as well as Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces Philip Valerio Sibanda.

The plaintiffs are claiming amounts ranging between $300 000 and $500 000.

The recent claims have been made with the assistance of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and bring the total claims recently filed against government and security agencies to over $10.

Among the complainants is a Rusape vendor Junia Mahuhwe who is demanding $300 000 for brutal attacks that caused her to lose wares during the protests.

Court records show that on January 17, a group of unknown uniformed soldiers unlawfully and wrongfully assaulted Mahuhwe in Rusape Central Business District.

“The plaintiff was peacefully selling her wares near N. Richards shop when a military truck packed with uniformed army and police officers parked close to her place of business. The officers jumped off the truck wielding batons and indiscriminately assaulted people in the vicinity,” reads summons.

“The plaintiff tried to run away but the soldiers caught up with her and hit her on the stomach. She suffered syncope and does not remember what transpired afterwards.

“She endured chest pains, palpitations, and pain in the back, abdomen, legs, feet, shoulders and arms. Further, she suffered not only physical harm but also mental anguish, anxiety, severe trauma, grievous harm to her dignity and integrity.”

The High Court will hear that when Mahuhwe regained consciousness, her wares had been stolen and suffered patrimonial loss and has not been able to recover the stock to date.

“The members of ZNA were acting within the course and scope of their employment. The assaults were humiliating and perpetrated in full glare of the public,” it is claimed.

“The notice of intention to sue was given in terms of Section 6 of the State Liabilities Act and despite such notice, failed, refused and neglected to pay claimed amounts.”

The government Ministers and departments are yet to respond to the summons.