Harare, May 14, 2015 – A Zimbabwean freelance journalist, Angela Jimu, has whacked Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri with a $25 000 lawsuit for damages she suffered after she was brutally assaulted by police officers.
Jimu, a freelance photo-journalist, was arrested and detained by police officers in August last year while she was covering a demonstration staged by some MDC-T youths in central Harare. The police officers brutally assaulted Jimu for taking pictures of some police officers who had pounced on an MDC-T supporter as they sought to suppress the opposition party’s protest.
In summons filed at the High Court recently, Jimu through her lawyer Kennedy Masiye of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, is demanding a total of $25 000 in damages from Mohadi, Chihuri, one Constable Matsikidze, who allegedly led the brutal assault and the officer in charge of operations at Harare Central Police Station.
The photo-journalist charges that $15 000 is compensation for damages suffered as a result of the assault, nervous shock and pain she endured from the brutal attack by police officers while $5 000 is for the unlawful arrest with the other $5 000 being damages for contumelia.
Jimu’s lawyers protested that police officers assaulted their client with truncheons all over her body and as a result of the shock, she urinated on herself and immediately went into menstruation.
“She spent several hours detained at the police station under the command of the 4th respondent (officer in charge of operations at Harare Central Police Station) and despite several requests to be assisted with changing her clothes as she had messed them with menstrual blood during the assault, no one attended to her at that time. She was only assisted after several hours by a polite female police officer who came to where she was detained and felt sorry for her and offered a sanitary pad,” reads part of the summons.
Jimu, who was later released from police custody without any charges being preferred against her sustained deep lacerations on her eye and swelling on both the upper and lower eyelids.
“The assaults were met on the plaintiff (Jimu) despite the fact that she had not committed any offence warranting such humiliation and embarrassment. An arrest and such wanton use of excessive force were not justified,” the summons read.
Besides Jimu, two other journalists Tapiwa Zivira and Privilege Musvanhiri were targeted and assaulted by police officers and municipal police last year while executing their professional duties in incidents that tarnished Zimbabwe as an enemy of free media.