A 40-year-old Rusape man can heave a sigh after a court in the small Manicaland town Wednesday ordered a police officer and his bosses to pay him $150 000 in terms of compensation for damages suffered after he was beaten by a vicious dog set upon him by a law enforcement agent.
Magistrate Rufaro Mangwiro ordered Constable Zwelibanzi Masuko, Commissioner-General of police Godwin Matanga and Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe to compensate Unity Saunyama who had sued them for damages arising from injuries he sustained from being attacked by a police dog.
Saunyama was assisted by Peggy Tavagadza of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to sue Masuko, Matanga and Kazembe for $248 755.
This was after Masuko unleashed a police dog in public, leading to the biting incident.
During trial, Tavagadza told the court that Constable Masuko approached Saunyama at a beer hall in Rusape on August 29, 2019 and demanded Saunyama's personal details to which he obliged.
Constable Masuko proceeded to drag Saunyama out of the beer hall and thereafter, accused the latter of being in possession of marijuana.
In response, Saunyama asked Constable Masuko to conduct a body search on him. However, instead of conducting the search, Constable Masuko set his police dog on him.
Saunyama sustained injuries which include two deep lacerations on his right ankle and a deep wound on his right thigh as a result of several dog bites.
Afterwards, Tavagadza said, Constable Masuko then went on to drag Saunyama around the central business district as he wanted members of the public to see what police officers were capable of doing.
Court was told that during the incident, some shocked members of the public pleaded with Constable Masuko to take Saunyama to the hospital as he was badly injured.
The police officer reportedly ignored the pleas.
During trial, Masuko, Matanga and Kazembe, through their representatives, did not dispute that there was harm suffered by Saunyama.
They however submitted that the initial claim against them was excessive. They made a counter offer of $10 000.
The magistrate ruled that Saunyama suffered undue harm and deserved to be paid RTGS$150 000 in compensation as a result of the negligence of Constable Masuko.
Magistrate Mangwiro declared that Saunyama was justified in seeking compensation from Constable Masuko, Matanga and Kazembe as he had been subjected to "shock, discomfort, mental suffering, loss of life's amenities and disability".