Delta wins appeal in landmark Supreme Court case

HARARE - A bottling company has won a Supreme Court appeal against a $20 000 High Court award that had been granted in favour of a Harare resident.

Onismo Rutsito, had filed a High Court lawsuit against Delta Beverages (Delta), claiming that he had consumed a contaminated Coca-Cola beverage.

He said the bottle contained a rusting iron nail and blackish substances.

Rutsito accused Delta of negligence and said the firm owed him and the general public a duty of care to ensure that the product is safe, clean and healthy.

Delta denied the averments, claiming that no such substance was found in the unopened bottle of coke.

The firm said that its manufacturing process was in line with international standards of quality.

Delta said the cleaning, manufacturing and bottling process made it impossible to produce a beverage contaminated with a nail.

Following the High Court ruling, Delta filed a Supreme Court appeal.

Supreme Court judge Paddington Garwe agreed with Delta’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu that Rutsito had failed to prove the particulars of negligence.

“It is not enough to allege negligence and fail to give particulars of such negligence. On the facts of this case, no particulars of negligence were alleged or proved,” Garwe said.

“It is now settled that the liability of a beverage manufacturer or brewery is not absolute. If the steps it took to avoid contamination were reasonable, in the sense that nothing more could reasonably have been done, then it would not be liable because it would not have been negligent.”

Garwe said at the end of the case in the High Court, there was no evidence that was led on the condition of Delta’s bottling equipment.

He also said that there was no evidence to suggest that there was anything amiss with the equipment or that Delta had failed to take necessary precautions in the manufacturing process.

“I am satisfied that for additional reason that negligence was not proved and a causal link shown between the beverage in question and the appellant, absolution should have been granted. The appeal must therefore succeed,” Garwe said.

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