Zim court faults ZRP for causing death of tortured woman

A ZIMBABWEAN court has faulted some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and ruled that foul play could have been committed which led to the death of Sharai Mukaro, a Chivhu woman.

Mukaro, a mother of two, died in September 2021 from injuries
sustained as a result of the severe assault and torture inflicted upon
her by Detective Steven Dondo and some police officers in a “Darkroom”
at Chivhu Police Station, where she was detained after being accused
of stealing US$1 000.

On 30 March 2022, Chivhu Magistrate Henry Sande began presiding over
an inquest to establish the cause of death of Mukaro which saw
Detective Dondo testifying and claiming that Mukaro’s husband Pastor
Abinel Mukaro had told him that she had some heart problems.

However, three witnesses namely Pastor Mukaro, the deceased’s husband,
her daughter Ivy Mukaro and Pastor Mukaro’s workmate Pastor Nelson
Chirambadare, told the court that Sharai was assaulted under her feet
by ZRP officers while in police custody. According to a medical
report, the cause of death of Sharai was as a result of blood clots
and indicated that several blows were inflicted upon her.

The inquest was only instituted after Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights issued a notice of intention to sue
on Detective Dondo, ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Home
Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe. In the
notice of intention to sue, Chinopfukutwa stated that Dondo fatally
assaulted Mukaro after having threatened to kill her. Chinopfukutwa
protested that the conduct of police officers who tortured Mukaro to
death is a breach of the constitutional obligation of the Police
Service to protect and secure the lives of Zimbabwean citizens as
provided for under Section 219(1)(c) of the Constitution.

The human rights lawyer also formally requested that the criminal
investigations on the death of the deceased which were being handled
by police officers from Chivhu Police Station be conducted by law
enforcement agents from another police station as he does not
reasonably expect police officers at Chivhu Police Station to
investigate themselves and accord justice to his clients, who are
Pastor Mukaro and Ivy.

On Friday 8 July 2022, Magistrate Sande found that there is a
possibility of foul play having been committed by some ZRP officers
which led to the death of Mukaro.

Magistrate Sande ruled that there is a likelihood that the late Mukaro
was assaulted by some police officers based at the Criminal
Investigations Department at ZRP Chivhu Police Station.

The Magistrate noted that investigations to ascertain the death of
Mukaro were unprocedurally done as they had been conducted by the same
ZRP officers stationed at Chivhu Police Station and who are being
implicated for causing the death of the late Chivhu woman and hence
the probe must be done by police officers outside Mashonaland East
province.

Magistrate Sande, who noted that according to the testimony of the
medical doctor, assault under the soles of feet were done to conceal
evidence of assault, said there is need to investigate if the offence
of culpable homicide was not committed.

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