Aggrieved motorist sues city of Harare and govt for gross negligence

A ZIMBABWEAN motorist is suing City of Harare and Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development for more than US$15 000 in damages caused to his vehicle which fell into an open and unmarked ditch, which was left uncovered by the local and central government’s employees.

A BMW vehicle belonging to Rodrick Hahlani, a Harare resident, fell
into a ditch in Belgravia suburb on Saturday 12 February 2022 after he
hit a heap of soil which was left uncollected with no barricade tape
surrounding the trench and neither was there any signage to caution
motorists when driving.

After the incident, Hahlani was trapped in his vehicle that had fallen
into the ditch and he was subsequently assisted by two well-wishers
from the University of Zimbabwe who witnessed the incident occurring.
The well-wishers were instrumental in removing Hahlani from the
wreckage of his vehicle using the back window on the driver’s side.

Hahlani sustained some injuries on his head and mouth from the impact
of his vehicle falling into the ditch and received treatment at a
medical facility in Harare.

The Harare motorist then engaged human rights lawyer, Idirashe
Chikomba, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who recently wrote a
letter of demand to City of Harare and Transport and Infrastructure
Development Minister Felex Mhona demanding to be paid damages
amounting to US$12 965 and ZWL600 000 within 14 days as a result of
negligence by the two institutions failure of which Hahlani will
institute legal proceedings against them.

The self-employed entrepreneur argued that City of Harare and Ministry
of Transport and Infrastructure Development breached their duty of
care by wrongfully and negligently creating a dangerous situation by
leaving the trench exposed and unreasonably failed to take reasonable
precautions to protect him and other members of the public from harm
which could have easily been foreseen and guarded against.

He charged that City of Harare and Ministry of Transport and
Infrastructure Development have a statutory duty to protect members of
the public from hazard by covering trenches and erecting warning
signs, lights, flags and barricade tapes to notify motorists of any

Out of a total of US$12 965, Hahlani is demanding US$9 000 for
replacement of his BMW vehicle, US$3 750 as damages for loss of income
as he was impeded from carrying out his day to day business and US$135
as costs for towing his damaged car from the accident scene.

From a total of ZWL600 000, ZWL400 will be damages for pain and
suffering while ZWL200 will cater for general damages for contumelia.

Hahlani is the latest aggrieved person to sue City of Harare among
several people. Recently, a Harare Magistrate punished Mhona by
ordering him to pay more than ZWL500 000 in damages to Shepherd
Chishiri, a Chitungwiza resident, as compensation for negligence after
he sustained injuries when he fell into an uncovered roadside trench
at Mbudzi roundabout in Harare.

The Magistrate granted the order after the 39 year-old Chishiri was
assisted by Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR to sue Mhona and City of
Harare for damages arising from negligence by the two on the basis
that City of Harare and the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural
Development breached their duty of care by leaving the roadside trench
unmarked and uncovered.

In court, Chishiri said he broke his right leg and had to undergo an
operation in hospital at his own expense after he fell into an
uncovered roadside trench at Mbudzi roundabout along Simon Mazorodze
road in Harare on 23 February 2020 in the evening after he had
disembarked from a commuter omnibus.

Earlier on, City of Harare was also ordered by a Harare Magistrate to
pay more than US$3 000 to Phillip Mutare, a motorist and his wife
Mercy Mutare, as compensation for damage to their vehicle which was
battered after it fell into an unmarked ditch, which was left
uncovered by the local authority’s employees.

The local authority had also 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.

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