HIGH Court judge Justice Edith Mushore has said the duty of police is to protect innocent civilians in a non-partisan manner.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Justice Mushore made the remarks while handing down judgment in a matter in which she awarded a Chitungwiza resident, Loveness Chiriseri, US$16 788 in damages after being shot by police in August 2018.
Chiriseri was injured when a police officer manning a roadblock shot twice at a private vehicle she was travelling in.
One of the bullets ricocheted and hit her, leaving her seriously injured.
Justice Mushore said police officers must protect lives and not endanger unarmed civilians.
“The police must be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by the Constitution,” the judge ruled.
“It cannot be overstated that the above provisions reflect the role of the police in a police situation where they are protecting the civilians’ body from a threat. That is why the provisions in the Constitution provide for a non-partisan intervention from the police force.”
The judge added: “It should be assumed that they exercise restraint whenever they are carrying out their duties in the presence of unarmed civilians. It should also be assumed that they carry out their duties in a non-partisan manner, because they are supposed to act in service to the public.”
Chiriseri, who was represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, is set to get the
US$16 788 with US$10 000 being for general damages, nervous shock, pain and suffering, US$2 000 general damages for disfigurement, another US$2 000 for damages for loss of amenities to life.
Another US$2 000 will cater for future medical expenses and US$778 being special damages for hospital and medical expenses.
The judge said police should only issue firearms to their members upon training.
“The presence of armed police in a civilian environment should not be subject to political bias,” she said.
According to events of the day, police officers from St Mary’s Police Station mounted a roadblock where motorist Lloyd Sibanda was signalled to stop, but did not.
In response, a police officer shot at the vehicle twice, injuring Chiriseri in the process.
Chiriseri, according to the judgment, will be paid in United States dollars as the economic environment was “unsteady” for someone to be paid in local currency.
“Further, I hold the opinion that the decided cases which determined that in a multi-currency climate, particularly where the economy presents itself as being unsteady, the common position has been that the courts have the discretion to make awards in United States dollars,” the judge ordered.
Last week, police in Chitungwiza shot and injured a vendor, Tinashe Zharare, while he was in his vehicle following a raid at a local marketplace.