Constance Sinachinga, a 58 year-old Harare resident was assisted by Bellinda Chinowawa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to file summons in the High Court in 2012 seeking an order compelling the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a subsidiary of ZESA Holdings to pay her damages amounting to $15 000 following a tragic incident in which her eight year-old son Takudzwa Nyandoro was electrocuted and died as a consequence of the extensive injuries suffered due to electrocution.
In one of the sad incidences showing how ZESA Holdings’ negligence has left a deep scar in the lives of many Zimbabweans, Takudzwa lost his life on 29 March 2012 because of carelessness by ZETDC workers who created a dangerous situation by leaving electrified wires exposed in an area frequented by members of the public in Eastlea, Harare and failed to place warning signs or cordon off the area to alert members of the public to the danger that was present.
In the summons, Sinachinga stated that she suffered damages amounting to $15 000 for emotional shock and psychological trauma occasioned as a result of the negligent causing of the death of her son by ZETDC and this was broken down as $10 000 for emotional shock and $5 000 for psychological trauma.
Initially, Sinachinga had demanded payment amounting to $500 000 but had to amend the amount following directions from the Court.
In court, Chinowawa said the 58 year-old woman failed to come to terms with the death of her son, whose bright future was taken away by ZETDC’s negligence.
Chinowawa argued that Sinachinga suffered emotional shock and psychological trauma occasioned by receiving news that her son had been electrocuted and severely injured, witnessing her son struggling for his life, receiving news of her son’s death and losing a favoured child, with whom she had a warm and close relationship.
The grief-stricken Sinachinga now suffers from hypertension, eating and sleeping disorders and has had to relocate from her home in Harare’s Eastlea suburb as she could not bear constantly seeing the scene of her son’s death.
ZETDC, which only moved in to secure the wires after the schoolboy’s death, denied being liable to Sinachinga for any damages claimed in her summons filed in the High Court and argued that the shock and psychological trauma she suffered were not reasonably foreseeable.
However, in an order made available recently, High Court Judge Justice Jester Helena Charewa on 17 May 2017 ordered ZETDC to pay $15 000 to Sinachinga together with interest at the prescribed rate from the date when the summons were filed to the date of final and full payment.
While the $15 000 damages cannot not erase the trauma Sinachinga is going through, the action could at least jolt other ZESA Holdings victims to push the State-run power firm to become a more responsible entity by holding it to account for its gross negligence.
Takudzwa’s death is one of the sad cases where ZESA Holdings is sucked in and charged with negligence.
ZLHR intervened as part of its anti-impunity strategies to foster accountability at the country’s supplier of electricity and to deter and discourage acts of human rights violations by parastatals.Post published in: Featured