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The right to compensation
Rights NGO Forum
August 02, 2011
Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) welcomes the acquittal of its
client, Mr. Goodwell Mazarura by the Mutoko Magistrates Court on
28 July 2011. Mr. Mazarura had been charged with contravening sections
134 of the Criminal
Codification and Reform Act [Chapter 9:23]. The charge followed
lawful attempts by our clients to recover his property that had
been destroyed and/or looted during 2006 violence.
Mazarura approached the Forum for assistance after his homestead
and property were destroyed in 2006 as a result of politically motivated
violence. In 2010, with the assistance of the Forum, he managed
to secure convictions against two of the assailants. The court in
passing sentence on the two perpetrators ordered that compensation
be paid to our client. However when our client attempted to enforce
this order by seeking compensation from the relatives of the convicted
individuals, he was arrested and charged with extortion in terms
of section 134 of the Criminal Codification and Reform Act. This
provision holds as criminal the conduct of any person who "intentionally
exerts illegitimate pressure on another person with the purpose
of extracting an advantage".
Mazarura's criminal trial the Forum argued that its client
had acted lawfully as he was entitled to such compensation. The
court ruled in favour of our client and as such he was acquitted
of the charge on 28 July 2011. The Magistrate in his judgement ruled
that, there was nothing unlawful about our client's conduct.
He (the Magistrate) further stated that even though, the order of
the court, which entitled Mr. Mazarura to compensation was passed
against the perpetrators, who are now incarcerated, their property
was not in prison. As such our client was entitled to approach the
relatives of the perpetrators to seek redress as ordered by the
and pragmatic interpretation of the law by the Magistrate is commendable.
It gives force and effect to the Court's power to order restitution
in terms of Section 362 of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07] and also reinforced
our society's condemnation of the use of violence to intimidate
political opponents. Mr. Goodwell Mazarura's acquittal served
to galvanize the moral recognition that, our client was wronged
and that he was entitled to be compensated by those that wronged
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