Yesterday, 20 July 2018, the High Court of Zimbabwe granted Robson Pumero, a victim of police brutality, an award of $17 172.18 as damages for shock, pain and suffering against Marlborough CID Police Officers. The police officers are required to pay the amount in their own personal capacity. Pumero was represented by Mr. Kenias Shonhai of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum). The case is part of the Forum’s anti-impunity campaign aimed at fighting for justice and accountability on behalf of victims of police brutality.
The perpetrators in the case are George Pukayi, Officer Gwasunda, Officer Matenga and Officer Bhunu of (CID Marlborough) ZRP Marlborough Station, Harare. Summons in this matter were issued on the 19th of February 2018.
Mr. Kenias Shonhai, a lawyer at the Forum who represented Pumero said that on 9 September 2017 at around 2000hrs, Pumero was apprehended by the named police officers who indicated that they were from Marlborough Police Station on undisclosed allegations at his place of residence in Dzivarasekwa 3.
In narrating his ordeal, Pumero said he was handcuffed and bundled into a private vehicle which was driven towards the CBD and along the way, the police officers interrogated him on his alleged role pertaining to the robberies involving his former neighbour one Synet. Pumero was beaten by beer and soft drink bottles on his hands, shoulders, ankles and knees. The police officers stopped briefly in the Harare CBD whereupon they went into a bottle store and bought some beer whilst the other officer continued torturing him inside the car.
“When we arrived at Marlborough Police Station, I was placed in one of the rooms where I was handcuffed with my knees between the handcuffed hands and a metal bar was put through my knees in a style commonly referred to as “mbiradzakondo”.” Said Pumero.
Two officers went on to carry him on the metal bar on their shoulders into another room wherein they placed both ends of the metal bar on two tables (the bridge) so that he could be dangling on the bar hanging by his knees facing downwards and the feet facing upwards.
The officers took turns to beat him under his feet using a baton stick with a metal handle in a fashion commonly referred to as “falanga”. They indicated that they would only stop when he confesses his involvement in the alleged robberies carried out by one Synet.
When he got seriously injured and helpless to an extent that he couldn’t walk alone/unassisted, the officers took him into the charge office and he was subsequently taken into the cells until the 11th of September 2017. This was the same day he was advised that he could go home with no charges levelled against him. Since he couldn’t walk alone, his wife was called to pick him up from the police station.
As a result of this torture, Pumero sued for the damages he suffered and judgment was granted in his favour on the 20th of June by Justice Kwenda.
Shonhai said that the case was part of a major campaign to hold police officers accountable for their unlawful contact.
“In the past, police officers used to hide behind the law. Our campaign is masking perpetrators who used to hide behind the institutions.” Said Shonhai.
In its 2017 State of Human Rights Report, the Forum noted that the police together with ZANU PF topped the list of perpetrators in the year 2017. The Forum went on to recommend an accountability audit to unmask persons responsible for driving institutions of violence and that they are held accountable in their personal capacity.