By Kumbirai Mafunda
A Zimbabwean court has ordered a police officer and his bosses to pay RTGS$150 000 to a 40-year-old man as compensation for damages suffered after he was mauled by a dog set upon him by a law enforcement agent.
Rusape Magistrate Rufaro Mangwiro recently ordered Constable Zwelibanzi Masuko, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe to compensate Unity Saunyama, a resident of Rusape in Manicaland province after he sued them for damages arising from injuries which he sustained from being attacked by a police dog.
The 40-year-old Saunyama was assisted by Peggy Tavagadza of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to sue Masuko, Matanga, and Kazembe for RTGS$248 755 after Masuko released a police dog in public which mauled Saunyama.
During the trial, Tavagadza told Magistrate Mangwiro that Constable Masuko approached Saunyama at a beer hall in Rusape in Manicaland province on 29 August 2019 and made an inquiry about his personal details to which Saunyama obliged. Constable Masuko proceeded to drag Saunyama out of the beer hall and thereafter made shocking allegations to the effect that the 40-year-old man was in possession of marijuana.
In response, Saunyama advised Constable Masuko to conduct a body search on him. However, instead of conducting a body search, Constable Masuko set his police dog on him and he sustained injuries which include two deep lacerations on his right ankle and a deep wound on his right thigh as a result of several dog bites.
Afterward, Tavagadza said, Constable Masuko then proceeded to drag Saunyama around the central business district as he wanted members of the public to see what police officers are capable of doing.
During this act, some members of the public pleaded with Constable Masuko to take Saunyama to a hospital as he was badly injured and needed medical attention but these pleas were not entertained.
During the trial, Masuko, Matanga, and Kazembe, who did not dispute that there was harm suffered by Saunyama, which entitles him to make a claim against them and had argued that the claim made against them was excessive, made a counteroffer of RTGS$10 000.
Magistrate Mangwiro ruled that Saunyama suffered undue harm and deserved to be paid RTGS$150 000 in compensation as a result of the negligence of Constable Masuko. Magistrate Mangwiro stated that Saunyama was justified to seek compensation from Constable Masuko, Matanga, and Kazembe as he had been subjected to shock, discomfort, mental suffering, loss of life’s amenities, and disability.