Supreme Court faults state agents over Mukoko's torture

Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court has chastised state security agents for torturing prominent human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko four years ago in a bid to induce some confessions implicating her in a plot to unseat President Robert Mugabe’s previous administration.

Mukoko
Mukoko

In a full judgment delivered Thursday by Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, and which was unanimously endorsed by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, Justices of Appeal, Wilson Sandura, Vernanda Ziyambi and Paddington Garwe, the Supreme Court ruled that compelling Mukoko to kneel on pebbles and holding her in solitary detention for long periods constituted torture.

“Forcing the applicant (Mukoko) to kneel for a long time on mounds of gravel whilst being interrogated falls within the meaning of torture. The severe pain and suffering she was forced to endure was intentionally inflicted.

“It was in aid of the interrogation the purpose of which was the extraction from her of information on the assistance her organisation was suspected of having given to Ricardo Hwasheni to enable him to undergo military training outside the country.

“The prolonged periods of solitary confinement incommunicado on the occasions she was not being interrogated constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment,” reads part of the 41 page judgment which also outlined the court’s reasons.

The release of the full judgment came three years after the Supreme Court ordered a permanent stay of the criminal proceedings against Mukoko in September 2009.

Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) was abducted from her Norton home in December 2008 and was held incommunicado and tortured for several weeks before being charged with recruiting persons for training as insurgents or saboteurs to topple Mugabe’s administration.

Apart from Mukoko, the state security agents also abducted about 20 other people including a two year old minor Nigel Mutemagawu who together with his parents were held incommunicado and tortured for several months before being charged with plotting to unseat Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) administration.

The other abductees’ application seeking a stay of prosecution until a determination is made on the violation of their constitutional rights is pending in the Supreme Court.

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