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Court orders ZWL3.7 million compensation for police shooting victim

HORIZONTAL

By Nkosana Dlamini

The High Court has ordered government and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to pay Harare resident Pardon Chitongo (25) ZWL3.7 million damages for his shooting and maiming by police during the country’s ill-fated January 2019 protests.

Chitongo, a resident of the city’s poor Epworth township, now uses a wheelchair following his misfortune 14 January 2019.

The incident was a culmination of wild protests that were torched by a sharp increase in fuel prices by government.

The protests rocked Harare and later spread to major towns and cities in the country, causing massive damage to property.

HORIZONTAL

Police, assisted by the army, moved to quell the disturbances leaving over a dozen dead and injury to many more.

Independent estimates placed the death toll at above 17 at the time.

Among those who suffered the misfortune was Chitongo who was standing outside his uncle’s house when police indiscriminately fired at protestors on the fateful day.

The youth, a bystander during the skirmishes, was caught in the cross-fire when a stray bullet burrowed through his arm, body, before coming out on the other side of his body, further hitting the other arm.

HORIZONTAL

As a result of the grave nature of his injuries, he had to undergo an operation to remove one of his kidneys. He suffered permanent damage to his spinal cord.

“Through our anti-impunity litigation, we are seeking to deter acts of impunity and hold perpetrators accountable for their misdemeanors and also dissuade would-be perpetrators,” said the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) which sponsored litigation against the State.

Chitongo had sought ZWL6.2 million as damages but High Court Judge Gladys Mhuri, who presided over the trial, later ordered ZWL3.7 million compensation.

ZLHR Board Chair Charles Kwaramba described the judgment as a milestone decision in the group’s pursuit for justice for state brutality victims.

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