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Ministers face US$22m lawsuit

Ministers face US$22m lawsuit

Court Reporter

EIGHTEEN people — including a five-year-old boy — who were arrested on terror-related charges in 2008, have brought a US$22 million suit against four Cabinet ministers.

The suit is for alleged torture, malicious prosecution, abduction and unlawful detention.

The 18 were accused of plotting to bomb infrastructure and undergoing banditry training in 2008.

Four women and 13 men are claiming US$1,2 million apiece, while a boy, who spent months in prison with his mother, is demanding US$1,6 million.

The ministers are Patrick Chinamasa (Justice and Legal Affairs), Kembo Mohadi (Home Affairs), Giles Mutsekwa (ex-Home Affairs) and Didymus Mutasa (ex-State Security).

Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe, Prisons Commissioner Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi and several senior police officers and State security agents are also cited as respondents.

The hearings of two cases in which the ministers are respondents were supposed to start at the High Court yesterday before Judge President Justice George Chiweshe.

However, it was deferred after the ministers’ lawyer, Advocate Farai Mutamangira, failed to turn up due to other pressing commitments.

The hearing will be on September 13.

The matter was brought to the High Court after the Supreme Court ruled their arrests illegal.

The litigants include MDC-T activists and human rights activists.

Zimbabwe Peace Project director Ms Jestina Mukoko, who was also arrested on the same charges, is separately suing for an amount yet to be disclosed.

Yesterday, Justice Chiweshe deferred suits brought by Mapfumo Garutsa and Regis Mujeye to September 13 after Adv Mutamangira failed to come to defend the ministers.

The ministers were ordered to pay for the wasted costs.

Harare lawyer Mr Tamuka Moyo stood in for Adv Muta-mangira and applied for the cases to be collectively dealt with for expediency.

He said the defendants were Cabinet ministers and could not continually be called to testify on similar issues.

The lawyer suggested that the cases be indefinitely postponed and set down for hearing when all the cases were ready.

However, Mr Charles Kwaramba, who represented the litigants, strongly opposed the application.

He said the circumstances of the applicants’ arrest and treatment in custody were different and hence the matters could not be clustered.

Mr Kwaramba added that most of the cases had not even gone through pre-trial conferences, hence postponing the two cases ready for trial indefinitely was tantamount to denying the litigants justice.

Justice Chiweshe agreed with Mr Kwaramba and postponed the two cases to September 13 when Adv Mutama-ngira is expected to be present to defend the Government.

Most of the plaintiffs are claiming US$500 000 each for unlawful arrest, detention, abduction, enforced disappearance and deprivation of liberty.

They are also claiming US$100 000 for assault and US$300 000 for torture, pain, suffering, trauma and contu-


For malicious prosecution, the plaintiffs are demanding US$300 000.

The boy, who was three years old at the time, is demanding US$1,6 million.

Being a minor, the boy had to stay with his mother in prison.

He was in custody from October 31 to December 29, 2008 when he was released without charge.

In Mukoko’s case and others last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the arrest and detention of the suspects was unlawful before granting them permanent stay of prosecution.




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