HARARE – MDC Alliance activists Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri have slapped home affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga with a Z$15 million lawsuit over “unlawful” circulation of their naked pictures snapped by an investigating officer.
The complainants say the photographs were taken at Park Town Hospital in Harare where they were receiving treatment together with Netsai Marova last year following their abduction and torture by suspected State security agents.
Mamombe, a legislator for Harare West, is claiming Z$10 million, while Chimbiri wants Z$5 million for the embarrassment they say they endured after their nudity went viral on social media.
The two said in court papers filed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) that the officer had assured them their private pictures were purely for investigative purposes but were shocked to see them in public circulation.
“On the evening of 15 May 2020, the first defendant [investigating officer] in the company of Dr. Nyamukure arrived in the ward where the plaintiff [Mamombe] was receiving medical assistance,” read the lawsuit.
“The first defendant identified herself as being from ZRP forensic department and proceeded to take photographs of the plaintiff’s body purportedly as part of the evidence. She captured pictures of the plaintiff and her colleagues who were hospitalised together with her [colleagues] namely Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri.”
The lawyers alleged that the officer who took the pictures “would at various times request the plaintiff to remove clothing to expose the various sections of her body so that she would capture them. This exercise was carried out solely by the first defendant and no other person was granted permission by the plaintiff to do so.”
The investigating officer, a chief superintendent Philip, is cited as the first of 7 respondents together with top cop Matanga and minister Kazembe whom the ZLHR argue are equally responsible.
Arguing for damages, Mamombe and Chimbiri say the pictures severely tarnished their dignity.
“The circulation of the plaintiff’s sensitive photographs was made without reasonable grounds and, therefore, negligent, malicious, and unlawful,” their lawyers say.
“At all material times, the first defendant who negligently and unlawfully released the sensitive photographs of the plaintiff’s body into circulation was acting within the course and scope of her employment under the control or instructions of the commissioner general and the minister.”
Meanwhile, Harare magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti has reserved judgment on the trio’s bail application until Wednesday.
The activists are accused of holding an anti-government protest calling for the release of pro-democracy campaigner Makomborero Haruzivishe in breach of Covid-19 regulations. -ZimLive