August shootings survivor seeks govt compensation

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A SURVIVOR of the August 1, 2018 military shootings, which claimed six lives in the aftermath of last year’s highly controversial general elections, is dragging government to court, seeking compensation for injuries he sustained.

By Nyasha Chingono

The development comes as the family of Gavin Charles (48), who was shot and killed during the violence, is contemplating legal action against the government.

The six were fatally shot on the streets of Harare, while scores were injured when soldiers who had been deployed to quell protests opened fire on unarmed civilians.

Hundreds of people had taken to the streets to protest the delayed announcement of election results amid claims that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was rigging results on behalf of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Loveday Munesi (30), through his lawyer Fiona Iliff of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), notified Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri of his intention to sue the government for disproportionate use of force which resulted in permanent injuries after being shot in the buttocks.

The commander of the Zimbabwe National Army (Lieutenant-General Edzai Chimonyo) and the director of the Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s Office were also copied in the intention to sue.

Munesi still has a bullet lodged in his buttocks a year after the shootings.

He was shot on his way from work while walking towards Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare after a truck full of soldiers screeched to a sudden halt before the uniformed men opened fire.

He requires US$7 000 to undergo surgery in India.

“As a result of this assault, our client has sustained a permanent injury affecting his ability to work and maintain a normal life and normal relationships. The bullet is causing severe chronic back pain,” the notice of intention reads.

“Our client produced evidence with regard his shooting before the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry. He is mentioned in the report, which recommends that the government set up a fund and ensure our client and other victims of the August 1, 2018 violence be compensated. To date our client has not received any form of compensation for the unlawful shooting.”

Munesi’s lawyers say the assault was unjustified, while the actions of the defence forces constituted gross human rights violations in terms of Chapter 4 of the constitution and international law, particularly the right to human dignity (section 51); the right to personal security (section 52); and freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (section 53).

So far, no arrests of the soldiers who shot civilians have been made and no compensation has been released to the victims as recommended by the Motlanthe commission of inquiry report.

Alison Charles, sister to Gavin who was shot in the back by a powerful firearm on the fateful afternoon is also demanding justice for her brother’s killing.

Burdened by the responsibility of taking care of Gavin’s orphaned 14-year-old daughter who has just enrolled for Form 1, Alison told the Zimbabwe Independent she had already engaged lawyers for compensation.

“It’s not the money. I want to know who killed my brother. He left a young girl and she has just started Form 1. She needs to go to school. But no one is talking about compensation,” Alison said.

Alison, who was staying at the same family house in Arcadia with Gavin at the time of his death, added that she was still seeking justice for her brother’s death.

“We don’t even know the person who pulled the trigger, we haven’t heard anything. It’s one of those matters that have been swept under the carpet,” he said.

Those killed on the day were Silvia Maphosa (53), Ishmael Kumire (41), Gavin Dean Charles (45), Jealous Chikandira (21), Brian Zhuwao (26) and Challenge Tauro (20). Of the six victims, four were shot in the back and two in the front. Last week, the United States government slapped former head of the Presidential Guard, Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, with a travel ban for his involvement in the shootings. The August 1 shootings, widely condemned by the international community, have haunted the Mnangagwa administration as Western countries he is trying to engage demand action to be taken on the killer soldiers.

The government says it is reviewing the eligibility of only 35 cases for compensation in the aftermath of the horrific killings, amid growing frustration at the sluggish pace at which the wheels of justice are turning.

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