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Justice for the marginalised
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
December 16, 20

The High Court of Zimbabwe on 14 December 2011, granted an Order in favour of Mr Trust Katsoke, a victim of organised violence and torture. The Order awarded damages to Mr Katsoke for shock, pain and suffering, loss of property and contumelia amounting to US$8 000 (Eight Thousand United States Dollars), following the assault on his person and destruction of his property by ZANU PF youths in Mt Darwin in 2008. The award was made against his assailants Sapren Nyamanhindi, Bayai Chitengo, Zvirewo Chatsamwa, Tinei Mutape and Benson Zuze. Mr Katsoke was represented by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum).

In brief, the circumstances of his case were that Mr. Katsoke was approached by a group of ZANU PF youths led by the above named five, at his homestead in Chiutsi Village, Mt Darwin. The group, armed with rifles and pick handles assaulted him with pick handles and booted feet all over the body in full view of his family and neighbours. Thereafter Mr Katsoke was abducted at gunpoint and taken to a base operated by the assailants at Kamutsenzere Shopping centre. During the assault, they continuously accused him of supporting the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He did not deny the allegations as he believed it is his constitutionally guaranteed right to associate with a political party of his choice. The assailants later returned the following day to Mr. Katsoke's homestead and looted his property before setting his hut on fire. As a result of the assault and arson, Mr Katsoke sustained numerous injuries and lost his entire property.

Mr Katsoke, with assistance from the Forum, issued summons against his assailants on the 23rd of October 2009. Despite receiving the summons, the perpetrators failed or neglected to enter any response to the summons resulting in the Forum approaching the Court for a Judgement in Default. This culminated in an order being granted by Justice Bere in Mr Katsoke's favour, compelling the Defendants to compensate Mr Katsoke as claimed in the summons, for sum of US$8 000 (Eight Thousand United States Dollars only).

It is the Forum's hope that the Order will assist and abate Mr. Katsoke's loss and suffering that he endured at the hands of the perpetrators. The Order should serve as a wake-up call for the perpetrators who had so far hidden behind their political affiliation to escape liability for their unlawful actions. It will be served on the Defendants together with a letter of demand for the amount awarded by the court and if this is not settled by the Defendants, the Deputy Sheriff will be enlisted by the Forum to attach the property of the Defendants and to sell the same to recover the amount granted by the court and other ancillary legal costs.

The Forum welcomes the court order - a positive signal that the pervasive culture impunity will not get the support of the courts. The order not only deters would-be perpetrators, it is an acknowledgment that fundamental human rights and liberties belong to all including the many victims in the rural and marginalised areas of Zimbabwe.

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