Zimbabwe activists sue state for $500 million

HARARE, – The lawyer for a prominent Zimbabwean human rights activist and eight others says they are suing the government for $500 million after their terror charges were dropped.

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld an application by Mukoko, a former TV journalist and director of the faith-based rights group, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) in which she argued that her constitutional rights to liberty, full protection of the law and right to freedom from torture had been infringed when she was abducted from her Norton home on December 3 in a pre-dawn raid.

Mukoko’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, of Mtetwa and Nyambira legal practitioners, said they served the summons to all the respondents.

“The financial damages sought are for illegal abduction, disappearance and torture at the hands of State players," said Nkomo.

Mukoko was held incommunicado in secret detention facilities until December 24, when she appeared in court charged with sabotage, banditry and terrorism.

During her detention, she says she was tortured by her abductors together with 23 other human rights and political activists.

Seven other people who were abducted around the same time with Mukoko are said to be still missing.
Handing down judgement in the matter Monday, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, sitting with Justice Paddington Garwe and Justice Luke Malaba, ordered a permanent stay of prosecution in the criminal case.

Mukoko is also demanding her bail deposit, passport and title deeds from the Attorney General (AG)’s Office following her acquittal.

In a letter written to the AG’s Office just after her acquittal, Nkomo said the AG’s Office should reimburse Mukoko her bail money of USd 600, return her title deeds and her passport which she surrendered in February as part of her bail conditions.

“We are fully aware that all these are in the custody of the clerk of court, but a letter from your office explaining the legal position to the clerk of court might expedite this matter,” read part ofNkomo’s letter.

Mukoko said she needs her passport to enable her to travel to Germany to receive a human rights award and to attend meetings in the United States of America.