Fostering a culture of accountability in communities

On Wednesday 26 October 2011, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s Public Interest Unit (PIU) successfully applied for a Default Judgment on behalf of its client, Mr. Weston Katiyo. Mr. Katiyo is a victim of Organised Violence and Torture (OVT). He was awarded compensatory damages for shock, pain and suffering, loss of amenities of life, unlawful detention, loss of property and contumelia in the sum of US$12,168.00 by the High Court of Zimbabwe. The award was made against his assailants M

The brief circumstances of the case are that, Mr. Katiyo, who is resident in Murehwa, was abducted from his home and assaulted by the Defendants who are self-proclaimed ZANU PF supporters. He was taken to a base at Madamombe Township in Murehwa where he was detained for three days and three nights under inhuman conditions. During his detention, Mr. Katiyo was denied medical treatment and was forced to share the room with a corpse of a fellow villager who had succumbed to the same gruesome treatment by the Defendants. The Defendants accused him of supporting the MDC. Mr. Katiyo did not deny the allegations as he believes it is his constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of association.

As a result of the assault, Mr. Katiyo sustained numerous injuries and had to undergo a total knee replacement operation. He is currently unable to walk without the aid of crutches. He is also undergoing continuous analgesic treatment to help alleviate the pain which he continues to experience.

The Forum instituted the claim for compensatory damages on behalf of Mr. Katiyo. Summonses were issued against the two assailants on the 24th of March 2011. The

Defendants, despite acknowledging receipt of the summonses did not file a response and were accordingly barred from doing so in terms of the law. Consequently, the Forum filed an Application for a Default Judgment arguing that Mr. Katiyo had successfully proved his claim for damages. Justice Makonese granted the Application on the 26th of October 2011 and ordered that Mr. Katiyo be compensated US$12,168.00 in damages.

The Forum welcomes the Order as it demonstrates the need for justice for all. Mr. Katiyo is one of the victims of OVT who ordinarily would not have been able to access justice due to the impediments within the justice delivery system itself. The Order serves not only to compensate Mr. Katiyo for the ordeal he suffered but also as an expression of the shared societal outrage at the ill-treatment he experienced. This is a positive step towards promoting respect for human rights and serves to deter future violators of human rights thereby fostering a culture of accountability in the communities.

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