City of Harare punished for negligence

By Court Reporter

THE City of Harare (CoH) has been ordered to pay more than US$3 000 to
a motorist as compensation for damage to his vehicle which was
battered after it fell into an unmarked ditch, which was left
uncovered by the local authority’s employees.

With the assistance of Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, Phillip Mutare, a motorist and his wife Mercy Mutare sued CoH
in November 2017 demanding payment of US$3 704 after their vehicle was
extensively damaged on 20 May 2017 when it fell into an unattended
trench in the middle of the road along Harare Drive in the capital.

In the summons, Iliff faulted the CoH for breaching its duty of care
by failing to take reasonable precautions to protect motorists, and
other members of the public, from harm which was easily foreseeable
and ought to have been guarded against.

The trench in which Mutare’s vehicle fell in, had been created by CoH
employees as they were carrying out some repair works and was left
unattended without any warning signs, lights, tape or barriers at the
site of the hazard to protect members of the public or animals from
falling in.

This resulted in Mutare’s vehicle falling headlong into the trench,
causing the airbags to come out while his wife Mercy, sustained some
injuries on her wrist and shoulder as a result of the impact, as well
as suffering emotional shock.

Iliff said Mutare and his wife only managed to exit the vehicle
through the rear door and were assisted by some onlookers to climb out
of the trench.

As a result of the incident, the human rights lawyer said Mutare and
Mercy suffered trauma and shock at encountering such a hazard in a
public road and having their vehicle damaged including suffering
physical harm.

While Mutare and his wife had demanded payment of a total of US$3 704,
Harare Magistrate Yeukai Dzuda on Friday 30 August 2019 ordered CoH to
pay the couple a total of US$3 204 of which US$2 604 is for special
damages for the repair of their vehicle, US$100 to cover the cost of
towing the vehicle from the scene after it was damaged and US$500 for
emotional shock, trauma, pain, and the suffering they endured.

Mutare and his wife are the latest persons to successfully sue CoH
after the local authority recently paid ZWL$2 500 as compensation to
Obvious Katambarare, a Harare resident who was injured owing to the
local authority’s negligence after some dilapidated metal sheets fell
on him at Mbare Musika bus terminus.