BY BLESSED MHLANGA
ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) employee Zakeo Mutimutema is now partially blind after he sustained facial injuries during the August 1, 2018, electoral violence, which resulted in the gunning down of six civilians by soldiers.
In 2019, Mutimutema successfully sued government for $295 000, but he is back in court to defend his claim after government, through Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, recently appealed against the award.
The complainant was shot while in his office at Gorlon House in Harare. As a result, he partially lost his sight.
He has undergone three unsuccessful eye surgeries to remove fine glass particles that pierced his eyes after a bullet shattered glass windows at his office.
After suing Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, Kazembe and police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga for damages caused on his eyes by the violence, he was awarded $295 000 in damages by the court, but government has refused to pay.
Kazembe has, through government lawyer Abigail Mushayabasa, appealed against the award, saying Mutimutema must name the soldier who fired a bullet at his office before he gets financial redress.
“The mere mention of unidentified soldiers does not establish a cause of action in vicarious liability, therefore, there is no cause of action against defendant one (Kazembe).
“To date, Mutimutema, has failed to give names of the persons who he alleges to be members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” part of the appeal read.
In the appeal papers filed at the Harare Magistrates Court recently, Kazembe submitted that: “In the absence of positive identification of the alleged principal offenders, the court will not be in a position to even apply the various tests to determine the degree of liability in order to determine Mutimutema’s case.”
Mutimutema’s lawyer Obey Shava told NewsDay that it was shocking that government had initially appeared ready to settle the claim since the lawsuit was filed in 2019, but later changed gear and made a counter application that did not make sense.
“According to police’s own investigations and conclusions which were conducted by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Forensic Ballistics, they confirm that the bullet which shattered and fragmented my client’s office window was fired by the Zimbabwe National Army from outside his office. How does the Home Affairs minister expect someone who was in the office to name a person he never met?” Shava said.
A commission of inquiry appointed to probe the shootings recommended that government should compensate all the victims of the August 1, 2018 shootings, and bring to book members of the army and police who were behind the shootings. Three years down the line, there has not been any attempt to bring the soldiers to book or compensate the victims.