HARARE – Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri have denied deploying riot police to the Harare Magistrates’ Court, where they allegedly brutally assaulted a 63-year-old Chitungwiza woman during a protest last year.
In their response to a High Court application in which they are being sued by Lillian Chinyerere for $13 500 for pain and trauma, the duo argued that the pictures which are being used as evidence of the assault might have been doctored.
High Court judge David Mangota on Wednesday presided over a pre-trial conference (PTC) to determine the issues for trial.
Chinyerere’s lawyer, David Hofisi, told the Daily News after the PTC that they will ask for a set down date for trial of the matter later.
“The matter will be referred to trial; the police have to file the summary of evidence by Friday and we will file the amended PTC minutes,” he said.
In response, the police are denying the allegations.
“… of all the police officers who were deployed at Rotten Row magistrates’ court, no one was further deployed to man the entrance. In short, no armed police officers were deployed at court on the day in question. Furthermore, there was no official report of any assault having occurred at Rotten Row magistrates’ court entrance till to date,” the affidavit reads.
“There are high chances that the photograph was doctored to suit the complainant’s requirements. The complainant failed to make a formal report at any police station in Harare province which clearly shows that the allegations are an afterthought by the complainant with the aim at tarnishing the image of the of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Had it been true the complainant was assaulted on the day in question at Harare Magistrates’ Court, there must be some other people captured in the photograph since there were a lot of people at the court. It is unbelievable that there are no other people…”
Chinyerere claims she was brutally assaulted by riot police officers while sitting near the court entrance at the Harare Magistrates’ Court on August 26, 2016.
Riot officers allegedly kicked her repeatedly with booted feet and struck her several times with truncheons.
According to summons filed at the High Court, Chinyerere, who has high blood pressure and is diabetic, suffered the ignominy of a brutal assault on her aging body in full view of the public and also suffered physical harm as well as harm to her dignity as she was humiliated in full view of the public.
Hofisi said Chinyerere suffered injuries on her back and shoulder and has been unable to proceed with her job as a tailor due to the injuries sustained and has been relying on well-wishers for her sustenance.
As a result of the assault, she suffered damages amounting to $13 500 broken down as $5 000 for pain and suffering, $5 000 for contumelia, $2 000 as special damages for loss of income and $1 000 as special damages for past and future medical expenses.