Management of Jets Stores in Lusaka has fired all its workers who took part in the painting and harassment of two teenage girls who were caught on camera stealing clothes.
The managers at the clothing store located at the PHI Mall informed officers from the Human Rights Commission who stormed the shop this afternoon that it has dismissed all the workers who participated in the act.
The firm has also stated that the sacked employees will have to bear their own legal costs in an event that the case goes to court.
And the Human Rights Commission has strongly condemned the treatment of the two suspects describing it as torture cruel, inhuman and degrading.
In a statement, Commission Information Chief Mweelwa Muleya said the Commission became aware of this form of human rights violation yesterday, 21st March 2016, through Social Media Platforms and immediately instituted independent investigations, which established as a fact that two named ladies of Mtendere Townships in Lusaka, aged 19 and 21 years old respectively, were indeed subjected to acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment by Jet Stores Officials on 23rd November 2015 around 18:00 hours.
Mr Muleya said the Commission has since interviewed the Stores Manager at Jet Stores, PHI, who has admitted painting the ladies with water paint, claiming that the victims consented to that kind of ill-treatment as opposed to being either fined or taken to police.
He said the Commission has also interviewed both victims who reported that they were physically and emotionally abused by beating them with electrical cables from 16:00 hours to 18:00 hours to an extent of one of them becoming unconscious while the other one bled from the ears.
“The victims also claimed verbal, sexual and physical harassment during the ordeal that took place in a room where they were later forced to lay down and subjected to being painted with yellow water paint all over the body,” he said.
Mr Muleya said the two female victims confirmed that they were accused of shoplifting a skirt, a sweatshirt and a hat while the stores Manager said they had shoplifted three ladies’ hats, a skirt and a boys’ T-Shirts.
“The Commission wishes to remind and warn both State and Non-State Actors that acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment are absolutely prohibited by Article 15 of the Zambian Constitution.
This prohibition is couched in absolute terms and no consent of the victim can waive this right to freedom from being tortured, which is aimed at protecting the inherent dignity and worth of a human being,” he said.
“It is also a breach of various Regional and International Human Rights Instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which Zambia ratified in 1998. There is no crime that justifies Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Suspects should always be reported to police who should in turn take such suspects to court, without resorting to torturing suspects under whatever circumstances.”
He added, “The Commission will summon both Jet Stores Management and the two victims for further investigations and action. The Commission is extremely concerned with increasing cases of such human rights violations. As a long term measure, the Commission is implementing Business and Human Rights projects and is also working towards facilitating the enactment of a national law criminalising torture to operationalise the Constitution and various Regional and International Human Rights Instruments.”