DEFENCE Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) commander Lieutenant-General Edzai Chimonyo have refused to pay two shooting victims over ZW$800 000 in damages for injuries sustained during army shootings that claimed six lives on August 1, 2018, saying they should identify and cite the perpetrators in their application, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.
The two victims, Loveday Munesi (30) and Tapiwa Tshuma, a kombi driver dragged Muchinguri-Kashiri and Chimonyo to the courts last year seeking damages.
Muchinguri-Kashiri is cited as the first defendant while Chimonyo is cited as the second in the case.
Muchinguri-Kashiri and Chimonyo, through their lawyer Mutumbwa Mugabe and Partners are refusing to pay damages, arguing that the applicants should identify the soldiers who shot them on the fateful day.
They argue that in the absence of alleged offenders, the victims are not eligible for compensation.“Plaintiff has neither identified the alleged assailants nor proffered an explanation for their non-citation. In the absence of the alleged offenders no cause of action on vicarious liability arises against first and second defendants. First and second defendants except to the summons and declaration on the basis that no cause of action has been disclosed against them,” Muchinguri-Kashiri and Chimonyo said in response to Tshuma’s claim.
In response to Munesi’s claim, they also said he should also identify the soldier who shot him and cite the alleged principal offenders for the claim to settled.
Munesi, a former college teacher, who still has a bullet lodged in his right buttock, failed to travel to India for surgery last year due to lack of funds and has been suffering back problems as a result of the bullet more than a year after the shooting.
Munesi says 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 halt before the uniformed men opened fire.
The 30-year-old could suffer permanent paralysis, a complication of the risky surgery to remove the bullet.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.
Munesi and Tshuma through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) issued summons last August seeking ZW$492 500 and ZW$313 230 respectively.Responding to Tshuma’s claims, Muchinguri-Kashiri and Chimonyo denied claims that Tshuma was shot by a member of the ZNA on the fateful day.
They also denied in toto (in total) Tshuma’s claims that he had seen a group of soldiers firing assault rifles indiscriminately at Market Square on August 1,2018.
Muchinguri-Kashiri and Chimonyo also denied that Tshuma incurred ZW$3 000 in medical expenses and ZW$230 in taxi fare to attend the clinic for treatment.
They also deny that Tshuma’s shooting had caused permanent injuries, causing chronic pains while refusing to pay ZW$ 3 150 in income lost during nine months of unemployment.
The defendants’ lawyers are also seeking to throw away Tshuma’s claims that the soldier involved in the indiscriminate shooting was acting within the course and scope of their employment with, and or under the control or instructions of, the first and second defendants.
They also argue that Tshuma has no proof of future medical expenses and that the alleged shooting was done by persons other than the two respondents.“First and second defendants hereby plead to Plaintiff’s declaration as follows. Plaintiff is put to strict proof of the alleged loss and injuries. Defendants deny liability for the alleged loss and injuries. Defendants are not liable for the alleged damages and Plaintiff is put to strict proof of the need for future medical expenses,” reads the plea.
“This is denied. Defendants pray for dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim with cost of suit on a legal practitioner and client scale.”
ZHLHR says 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).
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 — demand action to be taken on the killer soldiers.
So far, none of the soldiers who shot civilians have been arrested and no compensation has been given to the victims as recommended by the Kgalema Motlanthe commission of inquiry report.
According to the report, the six people who died on August 1, 2018, were shot by members of the military.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.
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.