Zimbabwean sues police boss and minister over COVID-19 lockdown assault

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Metropolitan police of city of Harare patrol the streets urging people to leave the central business district of Harare on March 30, 2020, during the first day of a scheduled 21-day lockdown declared by the Zimbabwe government to try and curb the further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. - Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a 21-day lockdown from March 30, 2020, curtailing movement within the country, shutting most shops and suspending flights in and out of Zimbabwe. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP) (Photo by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP via Getty Images)

A Zimbabwean woman is suing the country’s police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe for $3 million in compensation following her alleged brutal assault by police during the COVID-19 national lockdown last year.

FILE PHOTO: Metropolitan police of city of Harare patrol the streets during a scheduled 21-day lockdown declared by the Zimbabwe government to try and curb the further spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP via Getty Images)

The Zimbabwean government had announced it would punish violators of the lockdown measures. Thousands of people were arrested, according to police reports.

Lydia Chapalapata, 63, was allegedly assaulted by Assistant Inspector Brighton Muchingami on April 1, 2020, in Nkulumane as she lined up to buy maize meal at the shopping centre, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said.

The officer allegedly harassed and assaulted Chapalapata claiming she was violating national lockdown rules.

“Chapalapata sustained injuries on her back, thighs, head, and on her knees and suffered trauma, anxiety and shock as a result of the incident and had to be hospitalised at Mpilo Central Hospital for treatment and was later referred for specialized medical attention,” the ZLHR said.

Muchingami is further accused of threatening Chapalapata stating “there was no recourse at law for her as he was empowered by the national lockdown regulations promulgated by government to assault her.”

Chapalapata’s compensation claim comprises of $2.5 million in damages for pain and suffering, trauma and nervous shock and $500,000 to pay for future medical expenses.

Muchingami, Matanga and Kazembe are yet to make any public comments following the filing of the suit.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

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