Mathema, Hodzi risk jail term over contempt of court


HOME Affairs minister Cain Mathema and Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi now face a three-month jail term after they were convicted of contempt of court by the High Court.

A Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) report released yesterday said the two had been ordered to pay US$18 075 to pro-democracy campaigner Cynthia Manjoro for violating her fundamental rights. She was unlawfully arrested and wrongfully prosecuted in 2011.

High Court judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero recently found Mathema and Hodzi guilty of contempt of court after they failed to comply with a court order in which they were instructed to pay US$18 075 to Manjoro in damages for wrongful arrest, detention and malicious prosecution over claims that she participated in the murder of a police officer in 2011.

Justice Chikowero ordered Mathema and Hodzi to pay the full amount, including interest within 14 days of the granting of the court order, failing which they must each be committed to imprisonment for three months.

ZLHR said Manjoro was arrested by the police in May 2011 together with some MDC supporters and charged with the murder of a police officer in Harare.

While in police custody, the human rights activist was tortured during interrogations and detained under inhuman and degrading conditions.

“Manjoro was later acquitted after standing trial for the murder of the police officer. With the assistance of her lawyers David Hofisi, Jeremiah Bamu and Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, she then sued her tormentors for (her) unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution, medical expenses she incurred, … the pain and suffering and loss of income during the period she was incarcerated,” ZLHR said.

“This resulted in the High Court ordering ZRP and other government agencies to pay US$18 075 to Manjoro in damages for wrongful arrest, detention and malicious prosecution.”
The lawyers said out of US$18 075, US$2 000 was for unlawful arrest, US$2 000 for assault and US$5 000 for malicious prosecution.

At least US$3 000 will cover Manjoro’s past and future medical expenses, US$3 000 for pain and suffering, while US$2 075 will cater for the loss of income during the time that she spent in detention.

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