Now Daily Editorial|
By the Editorial Board|
Can anyone put a dollar amount to the experience of being beaten, battered, tortured, wrongfully detained, barred, evicted and having your home or business destroyed by the police without a court order?
Let us take, for example, take the case of the 200 families from Arnold Manzou farm in Mazowe, who were set upon by heavily armed riot police, who brutally evicted them and destroyed their homes to make way for dictator Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace Mugabe.
On Monday, Jan. 12, the High Court asserted the right of these families not to be evicted or have their homes destroyed without a valid court order.
But, by itself, the judgement and related orders can not restore the lives of people who were blatantly stripped of their right to shelter, water, security and other necessities. What these people need and deserve is to receive substantial compensatory payments as a way of correcting this horrific injustice.
Unfortunately, the Zimbabwean system is so cumbersome, expensive and corrupt that claiming financial compensation against the state is next to impossible for most victims of police brutality and rampant corruption. In the case of the Mazowe farmers, it could take decades before their civil claims are entertained by our overburdened, corrupt and incompetent court system. In practical terms, the police have become so used to these negative, hot air judgements that they simply ignore them. The police are above the law and such judgements are merely a slap on the wrist because they are not obliged to pay compensation to the victims. In cases where financial damages are finally awarded, there is no personal liability for perpetrators, who feel emboldened to continue violating the rights of citizens.
The shameful loss at the High Court by police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and home affairs minister Kembo Mohadi is a victory for victims of police brutality, corruption and arbitrariness.
The fact that Chihuri was acting on the illegal orders of a politician, Grace Mugabe, who has now been given Arnold farm, makes him doubly guilty of violating both the Police Act and the constitution, which require him to maintain a high level of integrity. It was, indeed, a sad day for justice when the chief cop, who is supposed to defend the constitution, was exposed by the court as a wilful outlaw. Such recklessness by Chihuri can not go unpunished. He has been protected so far by virtue of being dictator Robert Mugabe’s cousin. From Murambatsvina, which was declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations, to the callous Marange diamond murders and the most recent outrages, Chihuri has acted with total impunity.
Zimbabwean taxpayers must now refuse to pay for his lawless misdeeds. It is time for this rogue cop to be stripped of state protection. He must be made to pay from his own pocket for violating the rights of citizens. Additionally, he must be fired for presenting Zimbabwe as a banana republic in which the police terrorise citizens, brazenly defy lawful judgements and take bribes as a matter of routine and to enforce unlawful orders from Mugabe and Zanu PF politicians.
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