Passenger Shot At Police Roadblock Receives $1.4m Compensation From ZRP
A Chitungwiza woman who was shot by a police officer after the car that she was travelling in as a passenger failed to stop at a roadblock has finally received compensation from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Loveness Chiriseri was shot in August 2018, after a police officer fired two shots at the Honda Fit private vehicle that she was travelling in as a passenger. Chiriseri who was then a law student had boarded the vehicle intending to travel from Chitungwiza to Harare.
She suffered injuries when she was shot after the vehicle failed to stop at a police checkpoint at the intersection of Seke road and Delport road.
In December that year, Chiriseri filed a lawsuit in which she claimed damages for injuries sustained as a result of the shooting, medical expenses, pain and suffering, nervous shock and loss of amenities to life. She claimed US$17 000 in damages.
The police defended themselves against the lawsuit claiming that the officer who had fired the shots had done nothing wrong. They argued that the police officer had acted within the law and said that Chiriseri should claim damages from the driver of the Honda Fit, who had defied instructions from the police.
However, in court, Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) who was representing Chiriseri argued that the police officer had used excessive force. She said that the officer’s constitutional right was exercised in an overzealous and questionable manner.
In July 2020, High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore ruled against the police in this matter. In her ruling, she noted that Chiriseri posed no danger to the public or to the internal security of the country or to law and order and that she was an unarmed non-threatening passenger in a vehicle.
The police officer, Justice Mushore said, had no basis to fire a weapon at a civilian target and if it was his intention to stop the driver of the vehicle in which Chiriseri was travelling in from proceeding through a checkpoint, he ought to have fired a warning shot into the air.
The judge awarded Chiriseri US$16 788 in damages.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe, the Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Chief Inspector Modwick Musonza, the officer-in-charge of St Mary’s police station in Chitungwiza all risked imprisonment for contempt of court after they failed to pay compensation to Chiriseri as ordered by the High Court.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police saved the ministers and the senior police officers from serving jail time after they finally paid full compensation totalling $1 418 703.09 to Chiriseri on Thursday.
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