By Mary Taruvinga
THE after-effects of the violent protests early this year triggered by a 150% fuel price hike could hit two members of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet hard after Defence Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and her Home Affairs counterpart, Cain Mathema were slapped with lawsuits totaling $8, 3 million.
Muchinguri-Kashiri and Mathema will have to defend applications made with the High Court by individuals who were allegedly assaulted and bused by soldiers as well as police officers in the chaos that rocked the country in January this year.
Some 17 people were killed as soldiers used live ammunition to put down the disturbances that brought the country to a standstill for five full days.
The individuals are from Harare and other towns including Chinhoyi, Domboshawa, Rusape and some were allegedly abused days after the shutdown.
Individually, the applicants are claiming amounts ranging between $300 000 and $360 000 for pain and suffering inflicted upon them by the uniformed forces.
In summons filed with the High court, one Max Tavengwa is claiming $320 000 from Muchinguri-Kashiri.
He said he was assaulted on January 14 by an unknown member of Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) .
“The assaults were humiliating as they were perpetrated in the full glare of members of the public,” said Tavengwa.
Tinashe Matemba claims he was assaulted by soldiers all over his body with sjamboks, booted feet and button sticks.
“As a result, the plaintiff sustained bruises on the legs, thighs and buttocks. At all material times the ZNA soldiers were acting within the course and scope of their employment with the defendants (Muchinguri-Kashiri),” wrote Matemba in his declaration.
Muchinguri-Kashiri was recently sued for US$500 000 by one Simeon Maribha whose spinal cord was broken during an assault by soldiers during the meyhem.
“The disabilities suffered by the plaintiff include permanent spinal cord disability from lower stomach going downwards and psychological trauma,” wrote Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum which is sponsoring the court action.
In June alone, the Muchinguri-Kashiri and Mathema were jointly sued for over US$1 million by individuals who claimed to have been brutalised by soldiers and the police.
Some of the victims claimed they were abused during the one August 1 2018 post-election violence that led to the death of six people after demonstrations broke out over delays in the release of presidential election results.
The ministers are yet to respond.