TWO survivors of the August 1, 2018 military shootings, which claimed six lives in the aftermath of last year’s highly controversial general election, have dragged government to court, seeking close to a ZW$1 million compensation for injuries sustained.
By Nyasha Chingono
The development comes at a time Varaidzo Chiyanike, wife of the late Kelvin Tinashe Choto, who was shot by a uniformed police officer on January 14 in Chitungwiza, is also demanding $ZW790 882 in compensation.
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.
The duo, through their lawyer Fiona Iliff of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), on August 9 formally sued Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri and Zimbabwe National Army commander Edzai Chimonyo for disproportionate use of force which resulted in permanent injuries after being shot by marauding soldiers in central Harare.
Loveday Munesi (30), who still has a bullet lodged in his right buttocks a year after the shootings, is demanding ZW$492 500 from government. Munesi was shot on his way from work, while walking towards Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare after a truck full of soldiers screeched to a halt before the uniformed men opened fire.
According to summons seen by the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Munesi is seeking medical expenses to cover surgery in India. He has suffered severe chronic back pain due to the bullet wound which requires specialist surgery amid fears that he could suffer permanent paralysis.
Munesi’s medical costs of the surgery would amount to US$$3 700, equivalent to ZW$37 000 while travel and accommodation costs for post-surgery would amount to US$$4 500, equivalent to ZW$45 000.
The 30-year-old will also require physiotherapy and pain medication to recover from surgery and nerve damage amounting to ZW$20 000.
“There is a risk that the surgery will result in permanent paralysis, for which the Plaintiff will require further specialist medical assistance and care for life,” his lawyers said.
Munetsi is also suing for loss of income after losing his job as a science teacher at Trinity Academy. To date he has lost US$5 000, equivalent of ZWL$50 000.
“As a result of the reckless handling and indiscriminate discharge of a firearm by the Zimbabwe National Army, plaintiff suffered damages in the amount of ZW$4 500 being special damages for hospital and medical expenses, and other related expenses. ZW$102 000 being special damages for future medical expenses. ZW$50 000 being damages for loss of income. ZW$200 000 being general damages for nervous shock, pain and suffering. ZW$100 000 being general damages for permanent disfigurement, disability and loss of the amenities of life,” reads the summons.
His 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, none of the soldiers who shot civilians have been arrested and no compensation has been released to the victims as recommended by the Motlanthe commission of inquiry report.
Another survivor of the August 1, 2018 shootings, Tapiwa Tshuma, a kombi driver, is suing the government for ZW$313 230 after he was shot in the leg.
According to the summons, Tshuma was shot whilst attempting to flee soldiers firing assault rifles indiscriminately at Market Square.
“The plaintiff (Tshuma) quickly entered into the backseat of his colleague’s vehicle as it was driving off, to flee to safety. However, soldiers shot at the vehicle and a bullet pierced through the metal body of the vehicle penetrating the plaintiff’s left leg causing him extreme pain, nervous shock, and causing his leg to bleed profusely,” reads the summons.
Tshuma, who lost his job as a result of the shooting, suffered permanent injury is also suing for loss of income.
“He lost his job as a driver which had earned him ZWL$350 per month, and was unemployed for nine months, losing ZWL$3 150 in income. As a result of the reckless handling and indiscriminate discharge of a firearm by the Zimbabwe National Army, plaintiff suffered damages in the amount of ZW$3 230 being special damages for hospital and Medical Expenses, and other related expenses. ZW$10 000 being special damages for future medical expenses. ZW$200 000 being general damages for nervous shock, pain and suffering arising from the shooting. ZW$100 000 being general damages for disfigurement and loss of the amenities of life,” reads the summons.
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 — which Zimbabwe is frantically trying to engage diplomatically — 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.