A local magistrate has ordered police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri, to pay $5 000 in compensation to six villagers who were assaulted by his subordinates.
Six Chinyamukwakwa villagers were, in January 2015, assaulted by police details after they were arrested for trespassing in the local businessman, Billy Rautenbach’s Green Fuel sugarcane plantations.
A local youth empowerment lobby group, Platform for Youth Development (PYD), consulted the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights which assigned Langton Mhungu and dragged Chihuri to the courts, demanding compensation for the villagers.
On Thursday, magistrate Poterai Gwezhira ruled that Chihuri should compensate the six for the injuries they sustained while in the hands of the police.
“There will be an order for the plaintiffs against the defendants jointly and severally, the one paying the other to be absolved for payment of the sum $5000 for pain and suffering to each plaintiff.
“Payment of the sum of $901.80 to Vaina Ndlovu, $735 to Samson Muyambo and $60 Chipo Shiripinda being medical expenses incurred,” read part of magistrate Gwezhira’ s judgement.
Commenting on the judgment, Claris Madhuku, PYD director, said the ruling should send a clear message to the ZRP that they should not take the law into their hands.
“The judgment is a vote of confidence for our leadership as a pressure group and we shall continue to summon overzealous individual police officers who continue to personalize the perennial land dispute which there between villagers whose land was grabbed by Mr Rautenbach,” he said.
“The police must respect the ZRP charter which clearly discourages ill-treatment of assaulting suspects, and in this case we as PYD have always been encouraging dialogue between Mr Rautenbach and the aggrieved community to end the impasse which now nears a decade,” said Madhuku.
Clashes between Rautenbach and the Chisumbanje villagers started in 2009, after government gave the former over 10 000 hectares of land which was occupied by hundreds of villagers to grow sugarcane for ethanol production.
The villagers are still bitter about how they were displaced and continue to clash with President Robert Mugabe’s business partner.
They feel that the white businessman should compensate them for the forced evictions.
Some of the villagers moved to Mozambique,