HARARE – A High Court judge has ordered the Harare City Council (HCC) to pay $9 000 compensation to a man who fell into an unsecured drain and broke his leg.
High Court judge Esther Muremba granted the order, following an application by Evaristo Mungate in which he was demanding over $300 000 in damages.
“It is hereby ordered that the City of Harare pays to the plaintiff (Mungate) . . . $2 000 being damages for shock, pain and suffering, $1 000 / . . . for loss of amenities of life, $1 000 . . . for disability, $5 796 . . . for medical expenses.”
She however, dismissed Mungate’s initial demand as “ridiculous”.
“In future, if I am going to come across such a claim I will seriously consider not awarding costs in favour of the plaintiff even if they succeed in their claim. Legal practitioners should take heed and advise their clients accordingly,” Muremba said.
Mungate fell into a drainage pipe along Simon Mazorodze road in March 2014 and broke his leg.
According to his court papers, in which he cited the HCC, the mayor and town clerk as respondents, he was running to board a commuter omnibus to work when the incident happened.
“He suffered injuries and had to be treated,” the court noted in its judgment.
Mungate claimed in his court papers that the HCC was negligent, since it failed to cover the drainage tunnel or to put up any cautionary signs warning pedestrians of the existence of the uncovered drainage tunnel, this he said led to him breaking his leg.
“Consequently, he experienced excruciating pain and was left with a permanent limp.
“He can no longer conduct his usual day to day work and leisure activities without the aid of crutches or a walking stick,” Muremba said.
However, in its plea, the HCC had denied liability, arguing that it was not negligent in any way.
It further dismissed Mungate’s claims that he suffered injuries and that he was unable to walk and do his day to day activities.
“The defendants averred that the plaintiff’s misfortune, if any was as a result of his failure to keep a proper look out and acting without due care and attention,” the judge said.
However, Muremba could not accept the HCC defence and went on to hand down the order in Mungate’s favour.