Widow of slain Zimbabwean sues

10 May 2021 | Justice

MARC SPRINGER

WINDHOEK

The widow of the late Hlaisanani Zhou, a Zimbabwean national who was killed in Otjiwarongo two years ago, has taken a first legal hurdle in her quest to sue the alleged perpetrators of the crime for compensation of N$1.7 million.

The partial victory results from a ruling delivered by judge Eileen Rakow recently. In her finding she concludes that the plaintiff, Betserai Moyo, should not be compelled to furnish security for costs in a civil suit she filed against seven defendants.

That requirement usually applies to foreign plaintiffs who own no property in Namibia that could be used to satisfy a cost order against them.

According to Rakow, applying that requirement in this case would effectively prevent Moyo from having her case heard, since by her own admission she is destitute since the death of her husband who used to provide for her and their common child.

Citing the principle of equality before the law and referring to the right of access to court, Rakow concluded it would be “expecting the impossible“ if Moyo were to be compelled to furnish N$350 000 in security as demanded by four of the defendants.

The matter is now set to proceed at a case planning conference scheduled for 18 May.The respondents are Jonathan Patrick Myburgh, Jandre Jansen van Vuuren, Roberto Katjinamunene, Hendrick Simupureni, Kefas Kuutondokua, Gridhawk Security Company and Savemore Supermarket. Background The civil suit that is being heard parallel to an ongoing criminal trial against the defendants emanates from an incident on 3 June 2020.On that day the five main respondents are alleged to have assaulted the vendor and husband of plaintiff, Zhou, in a back room of the supermarket situated at Etemba Plaza in Otjiwarongo and caused him such severe injuries that he died in hospital a short while later.The attack was allegedly triggered by accusations that Zhou had stolen a tube of glue in the supermarket where security services were provided by the company Gridhawk, which employs four of the respondents. A further defendant is employed at the supermarket, where Zhou was accused to have stolen the glue.In her particulars of claim and citing a post-mortem examination, Moyo is arguing that the defendants are solely liable for the death of her husband, who they first assaulted and then “dumped” near the road where members of the public noticed the severely injured man and called the police and ambulance services.According to plaintiff the death of her husband left her traumatised and destitute and caused her to lose the financial support of about N$6 000 a month Moyo used to provide to her and the minor child from income derived through the sale of wood carvings. As compensation for that loss, she is claiming an amount of N$1 million.Additionally, she is suing for damages of N$600 000 for the psychological shock and trauma caused by the wrongful death or her husband. She is also claiming a further amount N$100 000 for funeral expenses citing that she solely arranged for the body of the deceased to be repatriated to Zimbabwe.

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