'Small house' judgment sparks debate

HARARE - Women have expressed mixed feelings over a recent High Court judgment which awarded damages to a woman who was suing her hubby’s “small house” for adultery.

High Court judge Judith Mushore awarded $8 000 in damages to Corah Mahachi, 70, who was suing her hubby Taurayi Mungate’s small house Pamela Farai Zimba for adultery.

While others felt this was a lesson to women who deliberately interfered with marriages by taking away the stability that society benefits from marital unions, there are others who believe the men involved should be charged instead.

“Small house” is a popular moniker among Zimbabweans referring to women who have extra-marital affairs with married men.

Mere mention of the issue of “small houses” will generate mixed emotions to the extent that local filmmakers put together a soap opera that mirrors such relationships which have been deemed unlawful especially when a legally married man is involved.

In the said High Court case, the parties had previously received formal warning from Mahachi advising them to drop the lawful union but they continued and sired a baby girl together in March this year.

The learned judge in her reasoning condemned Zimba’s conduct and reprimanded her for disregarding the sanctity of marriage as she awarded Mahachi $8 000.

“The respondent (Zimba) has breached the lawfully guarded sanctity of the marriage existent between applicant and her husband and even when she became aware that applicant had sought legal counsel and threatened suit against her and in fact filed suit, she continued cohabiting with her husband,” read the judgment.

“To add insult to the injury respondent intends to marry the applicant’s husband which will no doubt lead to the applicant’s ouster from the marriage contract which the applicant is supposed to enjoy exclusively with her husband.”

Married women who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday hailed the court for exercising its discretion but said no amount of money would repair the garment of marriage which would have been torn due to such ills.

Television personality and social commentator Rebecca Chisamba said although “small houses” faced the wrath of the law, married men who engaged in such relationships were equally to blame.

“As a law-abiding citizen I believe that what the court found on that woman who was made to pay $8 000 is according to the provisions of the law but given that I was the author of that law I would make sure the man also pays,” Chisamba said.

“The husband must also be sued because he is the one who would have breached a contract that he signed with his wife and not necessarily this woman.

“…receiving the $8 000 is not going to heal this woman’s broken heart.

“If I were the one to be given that money I would buy just a perfume and it is clear that this woman was just looking for something to get back at her husband but that not being the solution.”

However, according to Chisamba, women who deliberately became “small houses” demeaned themselves and were an insult to womanhood.

“It is derogatory, an insult and women should come to understand that it is quite problematic to share a man. The problem with our young daughters is that they want to reap where they did not sow and are attracted to material things that they end up involved with older men,” Chisamba added.

“Maybe to some extent our culture has contributed to fuelling such relationships because we put pressure on girls to get married and have made them believe that only a man will make them whole.”

Women’s rights defender Virginia Muwanigwa echoed similar sentiments and added that parties who engaged in such relationships failed to consider the impact that would weigh down on their children.

“I will not say anything about the judgment but when issues of “small houses” occur, what the world sees is two women fighting for a man forgetting that they may have children at home who will suffer the greater impact.

“Personally, I feel that the issue lies with the men in our society who fail to abide by the marriage contracts they would have signed with their wives, who knows, maybe the “small house” could have actually been tricked into the marriage.”

Rekai Maphosa a partner at Maphosa and Ndomene Legal Practitioners said the judgment was a lesson to women who deliberately interfered with marriages.

“Growing up we were told that marriage is a sacred union that should be respected by all. The Bible even says that one man shall have one wife but there are women out there seeking to destroy that,” Maphosa said.

“As a married lawyer, I hail the judge’s decision it is in conformity with Biblical principles. In terms of our culture if a man decides to have a second wife his first wife must be in agreement.

“The sprouting of “small houses” reflects on infidelity which has resulted in disgruntled families and risks of exposure to sexually transmitted infections.”

Comments (5)

this judgement will not solve anything for the poor woman. instead it will cause her more wars. The man will pay the fine for the small house and that might eventually lead to a divorce. the wife has lost her man for good. courts do not solve marital issues. they might seem to source emotional feelings of hate but not love and marriage. The comes a time when the woman thinks that their marriage is bound only y the piece of paper, the marriage certificate and fail to satisfy the demands of the marriage as set in the Bible: that of respect for the husband, humility, satisfying the sexual needs of the husband, etc and think that since they are legally married the law will eventually pin the deprived husband to them! Lutho! the woman should have sought assistance from the traditional structures and brought peace to her home and improved relations between her and the husband. The High Court judge simply took the law as is but that does not bring the husband back to her by force of law. Sorry poor wife he is gone for good.

Webster Sibanda - 10 July 2017

The judge's name is Edith. Why do you always write call her Judith?

Sonono - 10 July 2017

Why is it that most men r so ignorant of the harsh reality of how these so called house wives r so utterly garrulous, stubborn and loud mouthed. They literally run off their men into the arms of small houses. The fact that this judgement came from a woman notwithstanding, I find it harsh and misplaced. If a man runs away from his woman to another the victim must also take time to evaluate her inadequacies before screaming for the law, wch is skewed in favour of women, anyway.

Mhepoyenzara - 10 July 2017

Yes the judgement is by law. Biblically a man is only allowed to put away his wife because of only of the sin of adultery and not vice-versa to the woman. For the sin of adultery to take place, it is a woman who would have agreed to the proposal. May I point out that women are more than men according to birth statistics in our hospitals and women are scrumbling for men. Usually, for a man to approach a woman, it is the woman who would have shown and had made some gestures or signs that she loves the approaching man. Look, in the story above, the woman was told by the owner of the husband to leave someone's husband but she continued with the affair. If culture is true Nyaya yekudyiswa kunongodyiswa varume. The Judge was right kuti mukadzi uyu abhadhare kutorera mumwe murume wake.

Gibhison Chironda - 10 July 2017

probably chances are high that this female judge akatotorerwawo murume neimwe small house kkkkkkk or she could be someone's small house herself.nyaya dzacho dzinongopiringishana

ichoo - 10 July 2017

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