HARARE-Judge President Justice George Chiweshe will preside over the trial of four ministers and several top state security agents who are being sued for damages exceeding $150 000 by Mapfumo Garutsa, a Norton resident who was a victim of abduction and subsequent enforced disappearance.
The trial will commence during the week beginning 30 August at the High Court.
Garutsa is claiming a total of $190 000 in damages which he suffered after he was allegedly abducted by state security agents and charged with committing acts of terrorism and banditry. Former Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, his intelligence chiefs and ZRP enforcers up for damages
The abductee, who was accused of receiving training in Botswana and bombing police stations, was kept incommunicado for 22 days from 30 November 2008 until 22 December 2008 when he was brought to a police station. His captors accused him of bombing a bridge along Manyame River and Manyame railway bridge.
Garutsa says he was subjected to torture and was starved of food while detained at a prison in Goromonzi. He says he was only served “a small plate of sadza with dried vegetables”. He says his captors assaulted him and immersed him in a sink full of water.
The abductee’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama says the experience was “traumatic and is still haunting his client to date”.
The four ministers are former State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and former co-Home Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa.
Happyton Bonyongwe, the director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Paradzai Zimondi, the Commissioner of Prisons are being sued together with seven top police officers who include Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi, Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge, Senior Assistant Commissioner Nyathi, Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, Superintendent Joel Shasha Tenderere, Superintendent Regis Takaitei and Detective Chief Inspector Mpofu.
The abductee is claiming $50 000 damages for unlawful assault and torture, $50 000 as damages for the abduction, enforced disappearance and unlawful detention incommunicado.
$50 000 for malicious prosecution and $40 000 for unlawful detention.
Garutsa, a victim of enforced disappearances which were outlawed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 47/133 of 18 December 1992, says he was seriously tortured during the period he was held incommunicado.
He said the torture was unlawful, inhumane, degrading and violated section 15 of the Constitution and other regional and international human rights instruments such as Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which outlaw torture.
Besides Garutsa, other victims of abduction who include Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and human rights activists and a freelance journalist are demanding damages from cabinet ministers and state security agents for their alleged abduction, unlawful detention incommunicado, and deprivation of liberty in 2008.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have said that they have already started seeing State interference in the case with the preposterous charges being revived by the Attorney General's Office against lawyer Alec Muchadehama in order to take him off the case. Law Officer Rodrick Tokwe is being used for this prosecution. More details from the ZLHR.