Harare man awarded compensation in lawsuit against Defence Minister and Army Commander

A civil court has ordered the Minister of Defence, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, and the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Lieutenant-General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, to pay more than ZiG 41 000 to a Harare man who soldiers severely beat during the 2019 violent shutdown protests.

Muchademba Muponde, a resident of Harare, was heavily brutalised by some soldiers on January 16,  2019, when the military was deployed to quell anti-government protests that occurred countrywide spurred by an increase in fuel prices and worsening standards of living.

Initially, the defence minister and the ZNA commander claimed the soldiers who assaulted Muponde were under the control of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), not the ZNA  as they had been deployed to support the police in restoring law and order

However, on April 10, 2024, Harare Civil Court Magistrate, Tamara Chibindi, convicted the Defence Minister and the ZNA Commander for the brutal assault of Muponde and ordered them to compensate him for the ill-treatment he experienced, according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

“Muchinguri and Sanyatwe were on Wednesday ordered by Harare Civil Court Magistrate Tamara Chibindi to pay ZiG 41 633 to Muponde, a resident of Harare, who was heavily brutalised by some soldiers on 16 January 2019, when they were deployed to suppress countrywide anti-government protests, which were held in response to a unilateral govt increase in fuel prices and worsening standards of living,” said ZLHR in a statement.

The human rights lawyers said soldiers assaulted Muponde as he accompanied his grandfather to buy a chicken at Glenview 1 Shopping Centre in Harare, where he saw a group of soldiers chasing people around and he also began to flee.

“One of the soldiers, who was brandishing a gun, spotted him and gave chase and caught him before assaulting him on the back of his body and neck using the back of the firearm. Muponde started bleeding when the soldier hit him on the back of his head and he  ran to hide at a nearby homestead,” ZLHR said.

“But the soldier followed him and continued assaulting him using the back of the gun at the homestead.”

ZLHR said at one point, the soldier even lifted his gun threatening to shoot him.

“Muponde sustained serious injuries on both legs including internal injuries on his left leg as a result of the assault and he could not walk. The soldier continued beating him and only stopped after seeing the severity of the injuries sustained by Muponde, instructing him to wash the blood off his face,” narrated the organisation.

Muponde then engaged Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR, who in 2019 sued Muchinguri-Kashiri and Lt. General Sanyatwe, demanding payment of damages for pain, suffering, nervous shock, contumelia, affront to dignity and humiliation that Muponde suffered. 

“During trial, which began in February 2024 at Harare Civil Magistrates Court, Muchinguri-Kashiri and (Lt.General) Sanyatwe vainly argued that the soldiers, who assaulted Muponde were not under the control of the ZNA Commander but of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, as they had been deployed to assist the law enforcements agents in restoring law and order,” ZLHR noted.

Meanwhile, out of the ZiG 41 000, the Magistrate Chibindi said ZiG 20 816 will be damages for pain, suffering, trauma and nervous shock, which was suffered by Muponde.

The other ZiG 20 816 will be damages for affront to dignity, humiliation and embarrassment caused to the Harare resident. 

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