BY CHARLES LAITON
HARARE-BASED model, Tafadzwa Mushunje, who was awarded a US$45 000 compensation by the court following her arrest and prosecution over charges of assault and deliberately infecting her lover’s child with HIV, is suing three government officials in their official capacities, for contempt of court.
Following the granting of an order in her favour by High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore in August last year, Mushunje has been making frantic efforts to compel Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and the Prosecutor-General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi to pay her, but without success.
In her judgment, Justice Mushore lambasted police officers for abusing the institution’s power by “believing that it is their right to be above the law” while conducting unwarranted arrests on civilians, adding that it was becoming difficult for the public to trust the police.
However, despite having been censured by the court, the law enforcement agents and the PG have nonetheless failed to comply with the court order, prompting the model to approach the court again for recourse.
“This is an application for contempt of court in which the applicant (Mushunje) seeks that the court find the respondents (Mathema, Matanga and Hodzi) to be in contempt of court for wilful non-compliance with the court order it granted,” she said through her lawyers
from Chimwamurombe Legal Practice.
“On August 8, 2018, this honourable court granted an order in which the respondents were found to be liable for wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution upon which they … first and second respondent (Mathema and Matanga) were ordered to pay the applicant the sum of
US$20 000 for wrongful arrest and third respondent (Hodzi) to pay the sum of US$25 000 being damages for malicious prosecution.”
Mushunje further said all the government officials were also ordered to pay costs amounting to US$9 940, but they still did not abide by
the court order.
“This application for contempt of court is premised on the doctrine of rule of law which upholds the principle of equality before the law.
It preserves that the courts play an important role in protecting rights of all individuals. The rule of law binds government and all
officials to its precepts and also preserves the equality and dignity of all persons and the obligation of the State to obey court
orders,” she said.
“Non-compliance of court orders by State officials is fatal to the reputation of the courts and, therefore, there is need to make sure
that court orders are complied with otherwise the reputation of the courts will be put in disrepute.”
In her earlier judgment, Justice Mushore also said the unwarranted arrest of civilians by police officers who act “irrationally and
excitedly” was also causing a great loss to government since victims of such arrests were being awarded damages “at the expense of the
“At this juncture, I need to pose a question that being how can a public trust a police force which uses its uniform to victimise innocent
civilians at the expense of the public purse which is used to pay out awards of compensation to wronged individuals? This is an abuse of
power by police officers who believe that it is their right to be above the law,” the judge said.