BY CHARLES LAITON
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has filed an urgent chamber application challenging the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed by President Emerson Mnangagwa’s government as a way of curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the application filed at the High Court this week, ZimRights cited Health minister Constantino Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Commander Defence Forces Philip Valerio Sibanda, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri as co-respondents.
“This is an urgent chamber application seeking the enforcement of fundamental rights and the rule of law which has been violated and are still being violated under the pretext of enforcing a curfew … the violation of the rights is ongoing and some of the rights being violated are protected or inviolable.” ZimRight’s Harare province chairperson Takawira Mashingaidze said in his founding affidavit.
The current challenge follows a recent televised address by Mnangagwa where he announced a 6pm to 6am curfew, which is being enforced by the security services members.
“In this regard, from 1800 hours of July 23, 2020, armed members of the police and army began to disperse and harass (I dare say terrorise) people who were peacefully queuing for public transport. Thousands of people were forced to commute on foot to their homes from the central business district.
“I walked for about 15 kilometres and as I later established, the less fortunate ones walked even longer distances. The police and soldiers who forcibly dispersed people ostensibly did so in terms of Statutory Instrument 174/2020. This caused undue hardship and distress to stranded members of the public many of whom were subjected to humiliating treatment and threatened with assault or actually assaulted for allegedly violating the curfew,” he said.
Mashingaidze said a number of people were unable to leave the central business on time as a result of many challenges, including transport, thereby unintentionally violating the curfew regulations and falling prey to the beatings by the members of the security forces.
“As a human rights watch group, applicant believes that the curfew is being disproportionately, unfairly and unreasonably enforced in a manner which is extremely detrimental to ordinary people’s freedoms, rights, especially non-derogable rights,” Mashingaidze said, adding there was no justification for the harassment of the public by the security forces.
The matter is pending.
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