Ministers evade jail as govt compensates pro-democracy campaigner for police assault

By Court Reporter

THE Ministry of Home Affairs has paid more than $6 000 as compensation
to Lynette Tendai Mudehwe, a prominent pro-democracy campaigner, who
was assaulted by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers when the law
enforcement agents crushed an anti-government protest in Harare three
years ago.

Mudehwe, who is the Coordinator of Zimbabwe Activists Alliance, had
filed an application at Harare Magistrates Court on 28 February 2019
seeking an order for the imprisonment of two Cabinet ministers namely
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, Cain Mathema,
the Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister and Godwin Matanga,
the Commissioner-General of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) for
contempt of court after they failed to pay her $6 210 as compensation
for violation of her fundamental rights following her unlawful arrest
and assault in January 2016.

In her application for an order of contempt of court filed by Fiona
Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Mudehwe wanted Ncube,
Mathema and Matanga to be declared to be in contempt of court and to
serve 60 days in prison after they willfully disregarded a court order
granted on 3 December 2018 by Harare Magistrate only identified as
Moyo, who instructed ZRP to compensate her.

But the ministers and Matanga escaped serving the jail sentence after
the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage deposited payment
amounting to $6 210 into Mudehwe’s bank account, which she has since
confirmed receiving.

Mudehwe was assaulted by ZRP officers while participating in a
peaceful demonstration held in central Harare on 4 January 2016 and
sustained some injuries and extensive bruises as a result.

This compelled the human rights activist to engage her lawyers from
ZLHR who issued summons on her behalf demanding payment of damages as
compensation for the violation of Mudehwe’s fundamental rights and
this resulted in the Magistrates Court granting her order for

ZLHR says its intervention in assisting Mudehwe is meant at helping
combat impunity and strengthen accountability, which is essential to
the restoration or preservation of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.