Tortured Zimbabwe activist awarded $150,000 damages

A Zimbabwe court has ordered the government to pay $150,000 in damages to a rights activist who was abducted and tortured a decade ago over accusations of plotting to overthrow then president Robert Mugabe, a rights group said Friday.

Jestina Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), sought damages after she was abducted, beaten, tortured and held in solitary confinement for weeks by state agents after elections in 2008.

“The High Court ordered that the total payment of $150 000 must be made on or before 31 October 2018,” the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said in a statement.

The ZLHR said the $100,000 will be paid to Jestina while $50,000 will be paid towards her legal costs.

Mukoko and two ZPP employees, Broderick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo, were abducted in 2008 by unidentified people over allegations of trying to topple Mugabe’s government.

The three were held for weeks before being handed over to police and charged.

One of the charges included recruiting people to undergo military training in neighbouring Botswana.

The charges were later dropped.

Mukoko who has penned a book about her experience later sued government.

In a statement after the ruling by the high court Mukoko welcomed the judgement and vowed to continue with her human rights work.

“My resort to litigation and the subsequent victory in court sends a strong signal that state sponsored crimes cannot go unpunished,” Mukoko said.

“It is also an encouragement to human rights defenders that the dangers of their work will not be in vain.”

Zimbabwe’s “father of independence” Robert Mugabe was forced out in November 2017 after ruling with an iron fist for 37 years.

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