Zimbabwe: Mathema, Hodzi Risk Imprisonment for Contempt of Court Over Cynthia Manjoro Case

10 April 2019

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Senator Cain Mathema and Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi risk serving a three-month jail term after they were convicted of contempt of court by the High Court for ignoring the court's order to pay US$18 075 to pro-democracy campaigner Cynthia Manjoro for violation of her fundamental rights, when she was unlawfully arrested and wrongfully prosecuted in 2011.

High Court Judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero recently found Senator Mathema and Hodzi guilty of contempt of court after they ignored complying with a court order in which they were instructed to pay US$18 075 to Manjoro in damages for wrongful arrest, detention and malicious prosecution over claims she participated in the murder of a police officer in 2011.

Justice Chikowero ruled that Senator Mathema and Hodzi should pay the full amount including interest within 14 days of the granting of the court order failing which they must each be committed to imprisonment for three months.

Manjoro was arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers in May 2011 together with some MDC-T party supporters and charged with the murder of a police officer.

While in police custody, the human rights activist was tortured during interrogations and detained under inhuman and degrading conditions.

Manjoro was later acquitted after standing trial for the murder of the police officer. With the assistance of her lawyers David Hofisi, Jeremiah Bamu and Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, she then sued her tormentors for payment of damages for unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution, medical expenses she incurred during treatment, pain and suffering and loss of income during the period she was incarcerated.

This resulted in the High Court ordering ZRP and other government agencies to pay US$18 075 to Manjoro in damages for wrongful arrest, detention and malicious prosecution.

Out of US$18 075, US$2 000 will be for unlawful arrest, US$2 000 for unlawful assault and US$5 000 for malicious prosecution. US$3 000 will cover Manjoro's past and future medical expense, US$3 000 for pain and suffering while US$2 075 will cater for the loss of income during the time that she spent in detention.

Manjoro is the latest victim of state-sponsored violations to pursue state authorities after government recently compensated prominent human rights campaigners Jestina Mukoko, Tendayi Lynette Mudehwe and human rights lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu among other pro-democracy campaigners and ordinary citizens.

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