A ZIMBABWEAN court has ordered Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to pay more than $30 000 as compensation to some villagers, whose property and homesteads were demolished during forced evictions instigated by the country’s former First Lady Grace Mugabe in 2015.
In January 2015, ZRP officers raided and demolished the Mazowe villagers’ homesteads at Manzou Farm, in Mazowe District in Mashonaland Central province, where they resided without obtaining a court order to justify the forced evictions. During the forced evictions, the ZRP officers destroyed homesteads, household furniture and the villagers’ crop produce including maize grain and groundnuts.
This prompted the villagers, who sought the services of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to petition the Bindura Magistrates Court seeking various orders for payment of damages for the destruction of their homesteads and property.
In summons filed in 2015 at Bindura Magistrates Courts, the villagers argued that in destroying their homesteads and evicting them, the ZRP officers violated their fundamental rights including their right to property, guaranteed under section 71 of the Constitution and their right to freedom from arbitrary eviction provided under Section 74 of the Constitution.
The malicious damage to their property, the villagers also argued, was in violation Section 219 of the Constitution, which provides that the country’s Police Service is responsible for protecting and securing the lives and property of people and upholding the Constitution.
The villagers, who were represented by Noble Chinhanu of ZLHR, also argued that together with their children, they suffered great humiliation, shock, trauma as a result of the destruction of their homesteads and property and endured emotional suffering and physical hardship after being rendered homeless and at the mercy of the elements.
This week, judicial officers at Bindura Magistrates Court started handing down judgments in favour of the Mazowe villagers, who sued Mpofu, Matanga and six ZRP officers namely Inspector Munetsi, Constable Simbanegavi, Constable Machekecha, Constable Mataruse, Constable Ngunda and Constable Mapuranga, all based at Mazowe Police Station, who were part of the ZRP contingent, which tormented the Manzou Farm dwellers.
Some of the villagers, who have already been granted judgments of varying amounts in their favour include Leonard Mukoore, King Makosa, Esther Mushukuti, Alec Kamonera, Jona Zomba, Jerina Tope, Stella Mucharehwa, Elizabeth Mutsau, Media Kapfumba, Ranganai Chibundu, Yeukai Dube, Chipo Fote, Tapiwa Dhaisi and Pearson Matema.
Judgments for the other remaining villagers will be handed down this month.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights