Since the beginning of the 21-day lockdown a fortnight ago, there has been a spike in cases of brutality allegedly perpetrated by security forces.
By Annegrett Dube
In one such case, Lucia Masvondo was allegedly assaulted by security forces as she cooked on an open fire outside her house.
Besides being assaulted, Masvondo said she was unaware of where the police officers who assaulted her were coming from and there was a risk they may have been carrying the coronavirus pathogens when they went to her home.
In another case, Tendai Mtombeni fractured his hand and passed out following a similar assault and only came to the following day.
With the spiralling cases, the courts were forced to intervene, with the High Court on Tuesday granting an interim order that the police and army, who are enforcing adherence to lockdown regulations, should respect human rights.
Masvondo of Karoi, represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), applied to The High Court seeking an order overturning the lockdown order.
The lawsuit also challenged the lack of social distancing by the lockdown enforcers alleging that they posed a risk to themselves and members of the public.
ZLHR, who were representing Masvondo in the matter, said: “The case challenges torture, inhumane and degrading conduct, disrespect of dignity and violation of the constitution by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and [the] army who invaded Masvondo’s home, assaulted her and set dogs on her.
“It also challenges non compliance with social distancing by ZRP.”
ZLHR filed an urgent chamber application with the High Court last Thursday, after Masvondo was bitten by dogs belonging to the security forces while she was cooking in her yard in the evening.
Security forces have been accused of human rights violations by various pressure groups since the beginning of the lockdown.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum says it has documented at least 51 assault cases involving security agents, with most of the cases recorded in urban areas.