IN a major ruling highlighting the wanton violation of human rights by Zimbabwe’s security forces, High Court judge Francis Bere recently ordered the police commissioner, commander of the defence forces and the Minister of Defence to pay $2 001 375 to Jo
ice Mwandimuka whose husband was shot dead at Ziscosteel during a demonstration five years ago.
The deceased, Samuel Masiyatsva, died after the police and army opened fire on about 4 000 protesting workers at the steelmaker.
Masiyatsva’s widow mounted the action against the state to recover damages for loss of support to herself and her children. Justice Bere said the police and army had used unwarranted force.
“The court is more than satisfied that the joint operation of the defendants on the 8th day of August 2001 was an unwarranted use of excessive force in the joint operation which cost the deceased’s life and deprived plaintiff of support from the deceased.”
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leaders, some still swathed in bandages from alleged police and army assaults last month, at a press briefing on Wednesday accused the government of systematic violence and intimidation against labour organisations. The ZCTU, which released the court ruling at the briefing, said the police and army lied about their action against strikers at Zisco in which three strikers died in gunfire and 22 were injured.
The Defence ministry and police officers claimed the strikers were victims of accidental fire in an incident at the state Iron and Steel Co as police and soldiers shot into the air with automatic rifles to disperse 4 000 protesting strikers.
But evidence accepted by the Harare High Court rejected state claims that the strikers tried to disarm police and troops. It said the strikers were “seated and unarmed” and did nothing to provoke security authorities.
“Riot police officers started firing teargas all over the place and the workers started running away and as they did so the soldiers were indiscriminately assaulting people and randomly firing their guns,” the High Court ruling said. — AP/Staff Writer.