Source: Zesa hammered for negligence in electrocution cases | The Herald August 29, 2018
Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, has been ordered to pay $23 805 to a Harare widow who lost her husband due to electrocution.
ZETDC negligently left a live cable on the ground and Ms Scholastica Muranda’s husband accidentally stepped on it.
The man died from the injury.
Ms Muranda argued that her husband was the breadwinner in the family which looked up to him for support.
High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore granted Ms Muranda an order for payment of $23 805.
“The defendant be and is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff the following:
- a) Damages for loss of support for plaintiff and her child in the amount of US$23 805 together with interest thereon at the prescribed rate calculated from December 23 2016 to the date of payment in full.
- b) Costs of suit.”
The Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) represented Ms Muranda while Muza & Nyapadi Legal Practitioners acted for ZETDC. The live wire that electrocuted the man was left exposed by ZETDC, posing a danger to people who used the path.
Zesa initially denied liability, but later made a U-turn during trial and admitted to causing the man’s death.
When the case started, Ms Muranda claimed $90 297 but the court reduced the figure to $23 805
In a related matter, the High Court recently held ZETDC liable for the death of an eight-year-old boy who fell on naked power cables in Harare in 2012 before ordering the firm to pay $15 000 in damages. ZETDC paid damages to the deceased boy’s mother, Ms Constance Sinachinga, as compensation for the psychological trauma and emotional shock occasioned by the company’s gross negligence at No. 284 Herbert Chitepo Avenue.
The successful lawsuit serves as an eye-opener to some residents that ZETDC can successfully be sued for deaths occasioned by the company’s negligence.
Justice Jester Charewa granted the default judgment after the power company failed to defend its case.
“It is ordered that the judgment be and is hereby entered for the applicant in the sum of US$15 000 together with interest at the prescribed rate from the date of summons to date of final and full payment,” ruled Justice Charewa.
“Respondent shall pay costs of the suit.”
Ms Belinda Chinowawa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights represented Ms Sinachinga.
The now late Takudzwa Nyandoro was a victim of ZETDC cables left unsecured by the power utility’s employees after maintenance work.
The incident occurred on March 29, 2012 when the unsuspecting boy was playing outside the house with his friends.
The children were picking guavas from a tree in the yard. “While doing so, Takudzwa lost grip, fell into a pit which had been dug by the respondent’s employees and was immediately electrocuted,” reads Ms Sinachinga’s affidavit.
Ms Sinachinga said ZETDC could have at least placed warning signs near the pit.
The live wires in question, according to Ms Sinachinga, were exposed for a period stretching from January to March 2012.