Mother takes on Zesa over son's death

HARARE - It remains one of State power utility Zesa Holdings’ (Zesa) darkest sins.

A 10-year-old boy lost his life on March 29 this year because of negligence by Zesa workers who left naked power cables in the open.

Eight months down the line, young Takundwa Nyandoro seems a dim memory and it is business as usual at Zesa, whose shoddy services continue to put more lives at risk.

Not so for Takundwa’s grief-stricken mother, who is now suffering hypertension, eating and sleeping disorders and has had to relocate from her home in Harare’s Eastlea suburb as she could not bear constantly seeing the scene of her son’s death.

She is now pursuing Zesa with the intention of making the beleaguered firm pay for its grave actions.

Lawyers representing Takundwa’s mother, Constance Sinachinga, have turned on Zesa with summons demanding half-a- million dollars in compensation.

Even that amount cannot erase the trauma Sinachinga is going through.

But she reckons the action could at least jolt other Zesa victims to push the power firm to become a more responsible entity by holding it to account for its negligence.

In summons filed at the High Court this month, Sinachinga states that Zesa’s negligence is shocking given that the live wires which killed Takundwa were exposed from January to March.

Zesa only moved in to secure the wires after the schoolboy’s death.

Belinda Chinowawa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is representing Sinachinga.

Sinachinga says she has failed to come to terms with the death of her son, whose bright future was taken away by Zesa negligence.

States Chinowawa in the summons: “The Plaintiff (Sinachinga) has suffered emotional shock and psychological trauma occasioned by: lReceiving news that her son had been electrocuted and severely injured lWitnessing her son struggling for his life

- Receiving news of her son’s death

- Losing a favoured child, with whom she had a warm and close relationship.

Chinowawa said without resources, Sinachinga’s mental anguish had become unmitigated.

In all this, Zesa has shown little contrition.

After Takudzwa’s death, Zesa’s response was inhuman, offering the family a measly $300 to meet funeral expenses.

ZLHR, a grouping of lawyers spread countrywide dedicated to promoting and fostering a culture of human rights, says it is taking the matter seriously given Zesa’s history.

Several people have lost their lives, while others have seen property painstakingly bought from life savings reduced to ashes because of the power firm’s incompetence and casualness.

But it is the death of Takudzwa, a Grade Four pupil at Tomlinson Police Depot Primary School that torched a storm, with human rights organisations and ordinary people accusing Zesa of taking human life for granted.

Takudzwa was severely burnt after falling into a ditch with naked Zesa power cables.

He later died at Parirenyatwa Hospital the next day, due to the extent of the injuries caused by the electrocution.

“This case brings into sharp focus, the dangerous levels of negligence prevailing at Zesa which have resulted in the deaths of and injuries to numerous Zimbabweans,” said Chinowawa.

“It is shocking that such a young life was lost because a company known for reaping off customers — acted so negligently by failing to secure the live cables.

“For three months the cables were in the open and Zesa only saw it fit to rectify the problem after Takudzwa’s death.

“We shudder to think about the potential of many other cables lying naked and still posing grave danger to people in other parts of the country,” said the rights lawyer.

“It is time organisations such as ZLHR and ordinary citizens take the fight to Zesa and force the company to do its job,” she said.

At the time of the accident, Sinachinga said she could not come to terms with how a life could be lost in such avoidable circumstances.

“I don’t think I will ever forgive Zesa. I have lost Takudzwa. It is a very painful loss and right now my son could have been at school,” she said at the time she was burying her son.

“No official came to the burial to offer a public apology. They came with $300 which they said was for food,” she said.

A resident in the area told The Legal Monitor in the aftermath of Takudzwa’s death that people in the neighbourhood had told Zesa about the danger posed by the naked cables.

Still Zesa chose to ignore the warning until death struck. — Legal Monitor

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