Zimbabwean transgender woman wins compensation for illegal detention

accreditation
(iStock)
(iStock)

A court in Zimbabwe awarded a trans-gender activist the equivalent of $25 000 in compensation after she was arrested for using a ladies toilet, she said in a statement Monday.

Ricky Nathanson, whose age was not given, was arrested and detained for 48 hours in 2014 and charged with criminal nuisance after she used a women's toilet at a hotel in Bulawayo, the country's second-largest city.

She was acquitted by a local magistrate's court and approached the High Court seeking $2.7 million damages for unlawful arrest, illegal detention, malicious prosecution and emotional distress.

On Thursday she was awarded 400 000 Zimbabwe dollars.

"This has been a long, emotional roller coaster for me," Nathanson said in a statement jointly issued with a Johannesburg-based legal charity, the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC).

"I have waited almost five years for this moment. I am elated," she said in the statement.

"This is an incredibly life-changing decision. It is a great moment for Zimbabwe," said Nathanson, who is now living in America where she works as an activist for a human rights organisation.

Homosexuality and transgender are generally frowned upon in Zimbabwe.

In 2010, former president Robert Mugabe described gays as being "worse than pigs and dogs... (and) those who do it, we will say, they are wayward."

Nathanson said the ruling "affirms and recognises the fundamental human rights, freedoms and dignity of all its citizens. My wish is for society to be more tolerant and where LGBT persons are not in constant fear of being targeted".

At the time of her arrest, she was forced to undress in front of five male police officers to "verify her gender", and underwent "invasive and humiliating medical (and) physical examination," said SALC.

A local daily quoted High Court judge Francis Bere as saying Nathanson "was not only deprived of her liberty, but was subjected to forced anatomical examination in the most crude and naked manner by adventurous members of the police".

"As if that was not enough, she was subjected to further invasive examination at two different medical institutions all because of her trans-gender status, something that she did not invite upon herself."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 983 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
52% - 5262 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
34% - 3451 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 328 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.23
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
19.80
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
16.69
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.48
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.1%
Gold
1,785.52
-0.4%
Silver
20.48
-0.6%
Palladium
2,237.50
-0.8%
Platinum
947.50
+0.1%
Brent Crude
97.40
+1.1%
Top 40
63,161
0.0%
All Share
69,745
0.0%
Resource 10
64,485
0.0%
Industrial 25
84,636
0.0%
Financial 15
15,760
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE