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Mnangagwa taken to court

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DEFENCE minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is being dragged to court in his official capacity by a civilian seeking $2 500 in damages after he was allegedly assaulted by soldiers.

Report by Charles Laiton

Joseph Gonese says the soldiers accused him of making gestures akin to the MDC-T party symbol at them when he waved down an army vehicle after mistaking it for a traditional chief’s official vehicle.

Gonese said although he tried to explain himself to the soldiers, they remained adamant he was an MDC-T supporter and one Colonel Magumise ordered the soldiers to assault him.

“The aforementioned soldiers ordered him to lie prone on the tarmac and they commenced to assault him with sticks on the back, legs and buttocks,” Gonese’s lawyer Tafadzwa Christmas said in the claim.

It was, however, not clear in court papers, under case number HC7074/08, as to where the alleged assaults took place, but the incident is said to have occurred on May 28, 2008 at around 6pm.

In his response to the claim, Mnangagwa dismissed the allegations saying soldiers would never wantonly attack civilians.

“The defendant (Mnangagwa) distances himself from the allegations. At all times and during the related period, the defendant never deployed ZNA in any area to harass members of the public in any manner or in the manner described,” the minister’s lawyers said.

“The duties of members of the army are to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country and not to harass members of the public. If any member of the army harassed the plaintiff in the manner described, they were not acting within the scope and course of their employment.”

Mnangagwa further challenged Gonese to state the place of occurrence arguing such an incident never occurred at all.

The matter is at the pre-trial stage at the High Court after spending five years without being heard.  Gonese’s lawyers from Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum wrote to the High Court Registrar on May 29 this year requesting that the matter be set down for hearing.

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