By Kumbirai Mafunda
A Harare Magistrate has ordered Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to pay more than RTGS$50 000 to a Mazowe man as compensation for damages to his vehicle, which was burnt to ashes in 2019 by some law enforcement agents, who were evicting illegal miners at Jumbo Mine in Mazowe, in Mashonaland Central province.
Philemon Jijita, who runs a tuckshop at Masasa Farm in Mazowe sued Matanga and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe in December 2019 for payment of damages to his property after some ZRP members burnt down his immobile Nissan Hi-Rider vehicle in May 2019, which was parked at the farm as it had some flat tyres.
Jijita’s vehicle caught fire when ZRP members burnt some housing structures, cabins, and some grass structures that were close to his car.
His pleas to restrain the police officers fell on deaf ears as the law enforcement agents ordered him to move away.
With the assistance of Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Jijita sued Matanga and Kazembe demanding compensation for the damage caused to his vehicle.
During the trial before Magistrate Dhliwayo, Chinopfukutwa argued that Jijita suffered severe shock and trauma at witnessing his vehicle being wantonly burnt down by ZRP officers without reasonable justification.
This resulted in Magistrate Dhliwayo ordering Matanga and Kazembe to pay RTGS$56 640 as compensation for special damages to Jijita’s property.
Through instituting such anti-impunity claims against state actors who include police officers, who often violate the human rights of other people under the guise of acting within the realm of the law, ZLHR does so to deter and discourage such violations.