Council sued over cholera deaths

HARARE - In what could turn out to be a test case, two women who lost their husbands to the cholera outbreak which left over 50 people dead are taking the Harare City Council (HCC) to court, demanding compensation for their deaths.

The widows from the capital city’s Glen View suburb — the epicentre of the outbreak more than two months ago — are demanding in excess of $70 000 from the city fathers in compensation.

Alice Tapera and Mercy Mhike claim, through their legal representatives — Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners — that the municipality was negligent and contributed to the needless loss of lives.

In her founding affidavit filed before the High Court, Tapera demanded that the HCC pays her an amount of $12 400 for past and future damages suffered due to the passing on of her husband.

“The defendant (HCC) was negligent in that it failed to provide clean, running, potable and safe water to residents of Glen View 2 as is required of it by the legislation and the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” argued her attorneys.

“Having failed to provide clean, running, potable and safe water, the defendant drilled boreholes parallel and close to its dilapidated sewage pipes thereby causing the contamination of the borehole water and the subsequent outbreak of cholera in Glen View 2.

“Due to HCC’s wrongful act the plaintiff has lost their right of support from the deceased and have, as a result, suffered damages in the amount of $12 400,” it was further argued.

Tapera told the High Court that her husband was her source of support as she is uneducated.

She said during his lifetime, the deceased, who had a legal duty thereto contributed to the her support by maintaining her completely as a wife. 

At the time of his death, the deceased was employed as a headmaster at Simudzai Primary School and earned in the sum of $200 per month. 

“Had he not died, the deceased would have been employed up to the age of 78 years,” Kadzere and partners said.

Mhike and her children — Helga and Elizabeth Runganga — are also demanding an amount of $65 200 from council following the death of their breadwinner.

Kadzere and partners said Mhike’s husband used to be a vendor who earned about $400 per month and would have been able to support his family up to the age of 75 had he not died.

“At the time of his death, the deceased was self-employed as a vendor and earned an average profit of $400 per month. Had he not died the deceased would have been employed up to 75 years

“Payment of $65 200 being damages for past loss of support and future loss of support suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the wrongful death of Mhike’s husband who succumbed to cholera due to the defendant’s negligence,” Mhike said through his lawyers.

At the time of going to print, council was still to file its opposing papers.

The medieval disease left a trail of destruction and exposed the local authorities’ failure to provide basic sanitation.

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Comments (2)

The passing on or loss of life anyone whatsoever is always a very sad happening. It does not help at all when that demise is or can be related, in this day and age, to unsafe or not-so-potable water. It is now very common knowledge that each individual, particularly adult persons, that it is imperative to ensure that water used for drinking -at the very least- has to be safe for purpose. This is shown by the very wide availability of safe bottled as sold in retail outlets all over the country. Each individual has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that what they ingest, be it food or drink, is safe. That is the reason why people are always urged to, for example, wash mangoes before eating them, wash and cook vegetables before cooking them, thoroughly wash and clean 'maguru' and other innards and offals before cooking. We do this in the full knowledge that if we omit to take these precautions, we do so potentially to our own peril. It is not being heartless or unsympathetic to require that each individual make sufficient efforts to to preserve their own lives. Coming back to the issue of borehole water, we are well aware that this water is not coming from the council's water purification plant, and therefore CANNOT be guaranteed as safe. People must either chlorinate or BOIL domestic water. Ministry of Health can't be held responsible for non-use of condoms. And, who said they would live to age 75?? Just a thought

Madwala - 11 December 2018

Sue this clueless Zanu govt. As we speak there are deaths elsewhere in Zim due to the govt's negligence. And ask for millions not peanuts while you are at it. If it weren't for this govt's stupidity my dad would still be alive. We buried him all quarantined like he had ebola. Stupid fools.

Moe Syszlack - 11 December 2018

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