High Court rules in favour of tortured MDC member

President Robert Mugabe was dealt a humiliating blow this week when his Zanu (PF) party thugs were ordered by a High Court judge to pay $12 000 compensation to a victim of violence that engulfed Zimbabwe's 2008 presidential run-off election.

It is unlikely that the money will be paid, but lawyers for the victims plan to begin appropriating assets in Zimbabwe.

The plaintiff, Western Katiyo, who was abducted and sustained a fractured knee at the hands of Zanu (PF) militants, said the award proved that some of Mugabe's followers "are absolute thugs and terrorists".

Even if he never sees the money, he said, the case brought further credibility and attention to the accusations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

"At least I can tell my children I did everything in my power," he told The Zimbabwean. Any money received from the suit will go first to settle medical bills.

The award was made against Robson Marozva and Phanuel Nhenda, who assaulted him in Murehwa, in 2008, breaking his leg.

Katiyo testified in the High Court how he 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 nights under inhuman conditions.

During his detention, Katiyo was denied medical treatment and was forced to share the room with a corpse of a fellow villager who had succumbed to gruesome treatment by the defendants.

Katiyo's crime was supporting the MDC, according to the thugs. Katiyo did not deny the allegations as he believed it was his constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of association.

As a result of the assault, 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 constant pain.

The High Court awarded compensatory damages for "shock, pain and suffering, loss of amenities of life, unlawful detention, loss of property" in a default judgement handed down by High Court judge, Justice Martin Makonese.

Summonses were issued against the two assailants on March 24, 2011 but the defendants, despite acknowledging receipt did not file a response and were accordingly barred from doing so in terms of the law.

Consequently, the judge granted the application for a default judgement sought by Katiyo's lawyers.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum documented more than 200,000 crimes from beatings to torture committed during the 2008 election campaign.

It said over 200 people were killed in violence widely attributed to supporters of the ruling Zanu (PF), who were later given an amnesty for their crimes.

The rights group commended the ruling by Justice Makone as a positive step towards promoting respect for human rights. "This serves to deter future violators of human rights thereby fostering a culture of accountability in the communities," said the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum in a statement.

"The order serves not only to compensate 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."

Post published in: Politics

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