Washington Gezana will never forget the day he came face to face with rampaging police offices in central Harare.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Gezana from Hatfield was at the intersection of Julius Nyerere Way and Kenneth Kaunda Avenue in the afternoon of March 23 when all hell broke loose.
“I was walking with my wife Yvonne Magora at the intersection that was being controlled by police officers,” he recounted last week.
“When my wife crossed the intersection, the police officers started insulting her using unprintable words before assaulting her for no apparent reason.”
Gezana rushed to his wife’s side and tried to save her from the beatings.
“I was not given an opportunity to explain myself and their baton sticks started raining on me,” he recalled.
“I could not tell how many police officers hit me but I remember feeling excruciating pain in my right eye as I fell down screaming out for help.”
Gezana was picked up and taken to Harare Central Police Station where a report was filed before he was taken to hospital for medical attention.
His tormentors are still wearing the police uniform with pride but their time is running out as Gezana is now preparing to sue them.
Gezana’s lawyers, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), last week wrote to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officer in charge of Cranborne station seeking the identity of the officers that assaulted him and his wife.
“In light of the above, we are seeking your assistance on the names and ranks of police officers who were stationed at the above mentioned intersection on March 23 2017 manning and controlling traffic,” reads part of the letter.
“We have been instructed to ascertain the names and ranks of the police officers in order for us to assist our clients accordingly.
“We hereby expect your written response within seven working days of receipt of our letter, failing of which we will proceed to institute legal proceedings without further notification.”
The letter was also copied to officer commanding Harare Province and police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri.
ZLHR communications officer Kumbirai Mafunda said his organisation had stepped up efforts to seek justice for the downtrodden and vulnerable in society.
In the past month, the organisation successfully sued police for compensation in two cases that happened in Chisumbanje and Mutare.
In the Chisumbanje case, a Chipinge magistrate ordered the ZRP to pay compensation to seven Chinyamukwakwa villagers who were brutalised by the police in their land battle with Billy Rautenbach’s Green Fuels.
A week earlier a Mutare magistrate had ordered the Salary Services Bureau to garnish $100 each month from constable Crispen Chikazhe’s salary until he finishes paying $570 compensation to a torture victim.
Chikazhe tortured Brighton Sanyanga, a pupil at Pafiwa High School in Mutasa District, during interrogations after pupils held a demonstration at the school that left some property damaged.
In the past, ZLHR has also won compensation for victims of police torture.
Two officers from Nyanga Police Station — only identified as Kapfunde and Kambanje — were ordered to pay $3 000 in damages for torturing hotel security guard Tsitsi Chimhutu when they were investigating a break-in at Montclair Hotel last year.
The country is holding its collective breath to see how much former State Security minister Didymus Mutasa would be ordered to pay as compensation to Jestina Mukoko who was abducted, tortured and held in communicado by state agents in December 2008.
Mukoko is being represented by Beatrice Mtetwa, a ZLHR member.
Analysts argued that the suing of state agents in their personal capacities would curtail human rights abuses.