Matanga sweats over payment claims for police brutality

ZIMBABWE Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga is feeling the heat overpayment of damages awarded to people who fall victim to police brutality.

Godwin Matanga

Matanga recently disclosed this in his response to an application
seeking his imprisonment for contempt of court filed by Loveness
Chiriseri, a Chitungwiza resident after the ZRP Commissioner-General
failed to pay compensation to her as ordered by High Court Judge
Justice Edith Mushore in July 2020.

Matanga argued that there is no just cause for Chiriseri to take him
to court seeking his imprisonment for contempt of court for defying a
court order as he had taken legal steps necessary to trigger her
payment in compliance with Justice Mushore’s order.

Matanga attached some “telling” letters accompanying his notice of
opposition to Chiriseri’s application where he disclosed that he had
instructed his lawyers to request treasury authority from the Ministry
of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, which is ZRP’s parent ministry
to pay Chiriseri.

The Commissioner-General said he was not wilfully disobeying or
neglecting to comply with the court order as he had sought for
authority to pay and the authority had not been granted and is still
waiting for it to be approved. He said the delay to pay Chiriseri was
due to official procedures within government and once he gets the
Treasury Concurrence from the Ministry of Finance and Economic
Development, she will be paid.

Chiriseri was awarded US$16 788 in damages after she was assisted by
Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to sue when she shot
by police officers in August 2018.
She was injured when a police officer manning a police checkpoint at
the intersection of Seke road and Delport road shot twice at a private
vehicle she was travelling in as a passenger.

Chiriseri sued Matanga, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister
Kazembe Kazembe, Chief Inspector Modwick Musonza, the Officer in
Charge of St Mary’s Police Station in Chitungwiza and Finance Economic
Development Minister Mthuli Ncube for damages for injuries sustained
as a result of the shooting, medical expenses, pain and suffering,
nervous shock and loss of amenities to life.

In court, Iliff argued that the police officer who shot Chiriseri
applied excessive force and that the officer’s constitutional right
was exercised in an overzealous and questionable manner.

In her extensive ruling, Justice Mushore noted that Chiriseri posed no
danger to the public or to the internal security of the country or to
law and order and that she was an unarmed non-threatening passenger in
a vehicle.

The police officer, Justice Mushore said, had no basis to fire a
weapon at a civilian target and if it was his intention to stop the
driver of the vehicle in which Chiriseri was travelling in from
proceeding through a checkpoint, he ought to have fired a warning shot
into the air.

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