Nine victims of police and army violence have won their case at the Sadc Tribunal which has ordered that they be paid the awards granted them by the High Court in Zimbabwe but which government has resisted or refused to pay.
Sadc Tribunal Judge President Justice Ariranga Govindsamy Pillay delivered the judgment at the Sadc Tribunal court in Windhoek, Namibia, last week confirming the awards granted by the Zimbabwean courts.
The nine are Barry LT Gondo, Kerina Gweshe, Nyaradzai Katsande, Peter Chirinda, Phanuel Mapingure, Ruth Manika, Sophia Matasva, Trust Shumba and Mercy Magunje.
Their cases were heard variously between 2003 and 2007 and they were awarded damages in the then prevailing currency, the now worthless Zimbabwe currency.
The tribunal has, however, ordered that the awards be revalorised, “to ensure that judgment creditor is protected against the ravages of inflation by receiving the actual value of the amount awarded in judgment, as on the day on which he is paid”.
The nine are among scores who have sued government following violent attacks by the police and the military during Zimbabwe’s volatile political decade ending in 2009.
“The applicants are victims of violence inflicted upon them by the National Police and/or the National Army of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” read part of the judgment.
“Consequent upon the acts of violence, the applicants instituted proceedings against the Government of Zimbabwe in various courts in Zimbabwe. They were successful and judgments were entered . . .”
The court took into account the fact that the Zimbabwean currency had been abandoned in favour of multi-currencies and ruled that government had to pay applicants in foreign currency.
“The amount of damages awarded to the applicants must, in our opinion, be revalorised, in the interests of justice, in order to ensure that the real or actual value of the compensation awarded in the various court orders is received by each applicant on the date of full and final payment, after taking into account the adverse effects of runaway inflation. In other words, the damages awarded to the applicants must be inflation-adjusted,” the judge ruled.
The judgment recounts the court’s comment on the State Liability Act saying it was “a relic of a legal regime which was pre-constitutional and placed the state above the law: a state that operated from the premise that ‘the king can do no wrong’.
“That state of affairs ensured that the state and, by parity of reasoning, its officials, could not be held accountable for their actions”.
The government of Zimbabwe and the former ruling Zanu PF party have been accused of employing the police and the military as part of their election machinery where they allegedly brutalised the populace, forcing them to toe certain political lines.
The police and the army have denied involvement in politically-motivated violence.