By A Correspondent| The Harare Civil Magistrates court has ordered the Salary Service Bureau (SSB) to garnish US$100 each per month from the salary accounts of two Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) officers until they fully settle a debt amounting to US$5 200 after the duo was successfully sued by a Harare man, whom they tortured last year.
On Friday 20 October 2023, the SSB was ordered by a Magistrate at Harare Civil Magistrates Court to deduct US$100 each per month from the salaries of two ZPCS officers namely Michael Nduna and Florence Chihambakwe, to satisfy payment of a US$5 200 judgment debt, which was granted against the prison officers for their barbarism when they tortured Alex Tendai Gombedza.
Gombedza was severely assaulted and tortured together with his friend Evidence Kutsawa by Nduna and Chihambakwe, who accused them of passing through a prohibited area while they were walking through Chikurubi Prison garden in Harare in January 2022.
During the torture, Nduna and Chihambakwe instructed Gombedza and Kutsawa to lie down on the ground before assaulting them on their feet using wooden pick handles. After the assault, the ZPCS officers instructed some prisoners whom they were supervising to also assault the duo.
As a result, Gombedza and Kutsawa sustained severe injuries and had to seek medical attention.
Gombedza sustained injuries on his legs and feet and had to be admitted at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospital for treatment. The Harare resident suffered excruciating pain on his feet, which he still feels to date.
According to a medical report, Gombedza suffered three percent residual disability as a result of the injuries, which he sustained from the assault.
During trial at Harare Civil Magistrates Court, Gombedza’s lawyers Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Paidamoyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who assisted him to sue Nduna and Chihambakwe for damages, argued that their client felt greatly humiliated, embarrassed, dehumanised and degraded with the assaults and ill- treatment that he received at the hands of the ZPCS officers.
The human rights lawyers stated that Nduna and Chihambakwe treated Gombedza as if he was a dangerous criminal yet he was unarmed and posed no security threat whatsoever.
Furthermore, Chinopfukutwa and Saurombe argued that there was no justification for the excessive use of force against Gombedza as he had not committed any crime but was just going about his business walking on his way to Harare’s central business centre.
After the assault and torture, an aggrieved Gombedza engaged Chinopfukutwa and Saurombe, who in August 2022 sued Nduna and Chihambakwe for damages amounting to US$5 250 arising from the physical attack and ill-treatment for pain and suffering, humiliation, affront to dignity and embarrassment. Gombedza also cited Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi and ZPCS Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu among the respondents.
Gombedza resorted to asking the SSB to garnish the two ZPCS officers’ salaries after proceeds realised from the sale of some household property belonging to Nduna at an auction held in Harare in April 2023 to recover the US$5 250 debt only amounted to US$49 leaving an outstanding debt of US$5 200.
The Harare resident said no attachable property was found at Chihambakwe’s residence.
Apart from garnishing salaries of delinquent ZPCS, SSB has in recent years also deducted salaries of Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, who would have been sued by ZLHR for misdemeanours committed against human rights defenders and ordinary citizens.