Mathema, Hodzi risk imprisonment for contempt of court over failure to compensate pro-democracy campaigner

HOME Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Senator Cain Mathema and
Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi risk serving a three-month jail term
after they were convicted of contempt of court by the High Court for
ignoring the court’s order for them to pay US$18 075 to pro-democracy
campaigner Cynthia Manjoro for violation of her fundamental rights,
when she was unlawfully arrested and wrongfully prosecuted in 2011.

High Court Judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero recently found Senator
Mathema and Hodzi guilty of contempt of court after they ignored
complying with a court order in which they were instructed to pay
US$18 075 to Manjoro in damages for wrongful arrest, detention and
malicious prosecution over claims she participated in the murder of a
police officer in 2011.

Justice Chikowero ruled that Senator Mathema and Hodzi should pay the
full amount including interest within 14 days of the granting of the
court order failing which they must each be committed to imprisonment
for three months.

Manjoro was arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers in May
2011 together with some MDC-T party supporters and charged with the
murder of a police officer.
While in police custody, the human rights activist was tortured during
interrogations and detained under inhuman and degrading conditions.

Manjoro was later acquitted after standing trial for the murder of the
police officer. With the assistance of her lawyers David Hofisi,
Jeremiah Bamu and Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
she then sued her tormentors for payment of damages for unlawful
arrest, malicious prosecution, medical expenses she incurred in
treating herself, pain and suffering and loss of income during the
period she was incarcerated.

This resulted in the High Court ordering ZRP and other government
agencies to pay US$18 075 to Manjoro in damages for wrongful arrest,
detention and malicious prosecution.

Out of US$18 075, US$2 000 will be for unlawful arrest, US$2 000 for
unlawful assault and US$5 000 for malicious prosecution. US$3 000 will
cover Manjoro’s past and future medical expense, US$3 000 for pain and
suffering while US$2 075 will cater for the loss of income during the
time that she spent while in detention.

Manjoro is the latest victim of state-sponsored violations to pursue
state authorities after government recently compensated prominent
human rights campaigners Jestina Mukoko and Tendayi Lynette Mudehwe
and human rights lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu among other pro-democracy
campaigners and ordinary citizens.