A cabinet Minister and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga have evaded being incarcerated after they hastily paid more than ZWL300 000 as compensation to two victims of police brutality who had asked the High Court to imprison them for contempt of court after they failed to pay damages to the duo.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe, Matanga and two police officers had been hauled before the High Court by two residents of Manicaland province, who filed two court applications on 3 March 2022 and on 4 March 2022 respectively, seeking orders to hold them to be in contempt of court and that they be sentenced to 60 days in prison for defaulting on paying judgment debts amounting to ZWL150 000 and ZWL151 191.
In the case of Unity Saunyama, a Rusape-based resident, Hon. Kazembe, Matanga and Constable Zwelibanzi Masuko, reneged on paying compensation to the 40 year-old man as damages suffered after he was mauled by a dog set upon him by a law enforcement agent.
In 2021, Rusape Magistrate Rufaro Mangwiro ordered Constable Masuko, Matanga and Hon. Kazembe to compensate Saunyama after he sued them for damages arising from injuries which he sustained from being attacked by a police dog, which was released by Constable Masuko.
During trial, Saunyama told Magistrate Mangwiro that Constable Masuko approached him at a beer hall in Rusape on 29 August 2019 and made an inquiry about his personal details to which Saunyama obliged. Constable Masuko proceeded to drag Saunyama out of the beerhall and thereafter made shocking allegations to the effect that the 40 year-old man was in possession of marijuana.
In response, Saunyama advised Constable Masuko to conduct a body search on him. However, instead of conducting a body search, Constable Masuko set his police dog on him and he sustained injuries which include two deep lacerations on his right ankle and a deep wound on his right
thigh as a result of several dog bites.
Afterwards, Constable Masuko then proceeded to drag Saunyama around the central business district as he wanted members of the public to see what police officers are capable of doing. During this act, some members of the public pleaded with Constable Masuko to take Saunyama to a hospital as he was badly injured and needed medical attention but these pleas were not entertained.
In the end, Magistrate Mangwiro ruled that Saunyama suffered undue harm and deserved to be paid RTGS$150 000 in compensation as a result of the negligence of Constable Masuko. Magistrate Mangwiro stated that Saunyama was justified to seek compensation from Constable Masuko, Matanga and Kazembe as he had been subjected to shock, discomfort, mental suffering, loss of life’s amenities and disability.
In the case of 18 year-old Ernest Jamela, Mutare Magistrate Lazarus Murendo on 25 November 2020 ordered Hon. Kazembe, Matanga and Jefinias Mazambani, a police officer to pay ZWL151 191 as damages for torture while in police custody.
Jamela was assaulted upon arrest and detention by Mazambani, who was infamously known as the “Lion of Judah” in the community for disproportionate use of brute force in a case where the victim, then a 15 year-old minor in 2019 and resident in Sakubva high-density suburb in Mutare, was assaulted on two consecutive days on 4 and 5 March 2019 during police investigations of theft of a mobile phone handset at his school.