ZESA to pay for boob

The country’s sole electricity firm, ZESA Holdings’ legendary incompetence that has often resulted in deaths could come at a cost to the company, whose negligence has largely been met with impunity.

The latest bungling by ZESA Holdings led to the death of 10-year-old Takudzwa Nyandoro, who became a victim of power cables left in the open by ZESA.

Nyandoro’s family has now begun taking measures to make ZESA pay, and with the help of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is preparing a lawsuit to force the firm to pay compensation.

After Takudzwa’s death, ZESA’s response was inhuman, offering the family a measly $300 to meet funeral expenses.

ZLHR, a grouping of lawyers spread countrywide dedicated to promoting and fostering a culture of human rights, says it is taking the matter seriously given ZESA’s history.

Several people have lost their lives, while others have seen property painstakingly bought from life savings reduced to ashes because of the power firm’s incompetence.

But it is the death of Takudzwa, a grade four pupil at the police Tomlinson Depot Primary School that has touched nerves, with human rights organisations and ordinary people accusing ZESA of taking human life for granted.

Takudzwa, of Harare’s Eastlea suburb, was severely burnt on the 29th of March 2012 after falling into a ditch with naked ZESA power cables. He later died at Parirenyatwa Hospital the next day, due to the extent of the injuries caused in the electrocution.

“This case brings into sharp focus the dangerous levels of negligence prevailing at ZESA which have resulted in the deaths and injuries to numerous Zimbabweans,” said Belinda Chinowawa, a ZLHR lawyer handling the case.

Lawyers and the family are still working on the quantum of the damages, and stress that such action is necessary as a deterrent against future impunity by ZESA.

“It is shocking that such a young life was lost because a company known for reaping off customers acted so negligently by failing to secure the live cables. For three months the cables were in the open and ZESA only saw it fit to rectify the problem after Takudzwa’s death. We shudder to think about the potential of many other cables lying naked and still posing grave danger to people in other parts of the country,” said Chinowawa.

“It is time organisations such as ZLHR and ordinary citizens take the fight to ZESA and force the company to do its job,” she said.

According to the family, the cables were left unsecured by ZESA workers who were carrying out maintenance work three months ago at the corner of Samora Machel Avenue and Leitrim Crescent in Eastlea, and despite persistent calls to ZESA to cover them, the cables remained exposed until the day after the tragedy occurred.

The deceased’s mother, Ms Constance Sinachinge has expressed anger and deep sorrow at the passing away of her son, in what could have been an avoidable death.

“I don’t think I will ever forgive Zesa. I have lost Takudzwa. It is a very painful loss and right now my son could have been at school,” she told reporters last week.

“No official came to the burial to offer a public apology. They came today (yesterday) with $300 which they said was for food,” she said. Chinowawa said the family had stressed to ZLHR that justice must be done.

“As such the family has retained the services of ZLHR in order to assist the filing of a delictual claim against ZESA, and it is our hope that punitive damages will be awarded against the power utility so that such acts are not repeated in future,” said Chinowawa.

A resident in the area told The Legal Monitor in the aftermath of Takudzwa’s death that people in the neighbourhood had told ZESA about the danger posed by the naked cables. Still ZESA chose to ignore until death struck.

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