Police have been ordered to pay $17 075 in damages to pro-democracy activist Cynthia Manjoro, a victim of wrongful arrest, detention, torture and malicious prosecution, High Court judge Mary Zimba-Dube ruled yesterday.
Police had contested the charges and refused to accept liability for any damages against plaintiff Manjoro, who was seeking financial damages, but the High Court threw out the protest.
Manjoro filed the suit in 2011 claiming she suffered torture and other abuses by police officers.
In the application, she had cited the then Home Affairs minister and commissioner-general of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the prosecutor-general as respondents.
The High Court settled for $17 075 against the initial demand of $82 000 by Manjoro.
The police initially entered special pleas to Manjoro’s claim, arguing that in terms of the Police Act, any civil proceedings instituted against the State or member in respect of a claim such as the one brought by the pro-democracy activist should be commenced within eight months after the cause of action has arisen.
But the High Court threw out the argument, ruling that the police were answerable to Manjoro’s unlawful arrest and assault.
In her court papers filed on her behalf by Jeremiah Bamu and Fiona Iliff from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Manjoro, who was arrested together with 28 others, said that she was wrongfully arrested on charges of murdering police inspector Petros Mutedza in May 2011.
She was arrested because her car was spotted at the murder scene.
Despite telling the police that she was attending a church service at the material time and was not present at the scene, the police went on to detain her.
She told the police that her boyfriend Darlington Madzanga was the one who was in possession of the car at the material time.
Following her arrest, she was denied bail, which resulted in her spending seven months in remand prison.
Manjoro was subsequently brought before the courts and acquitted in September 2013.
“During her detention in police custody, she was subjected to routine and incessant questioning by a number of police detectives and during this interrogation, the plaintiff was subjected to assaults and torture and particularly received incessant assaults on her knees with a baton.
“As a consequence of these beatings, the plaintiff had to undergo an operation on her knees to drain pus that had accumulated.
“She is therefore entitled to damages for assault, contumelia, pain, shock and suffering arising from these acts,” Manjoro told the court.