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$17 000 compensation for blast-injured teacher

By Fidelis Munyoro

A Harare International School teacher has been awarded over $17 000 in compensatory damages for injuries he suffered in an explosion during a “memorable” jaunt in Chimanimani, five years ago.

File picture of pupils on an Outward Bound Camp
File picture of pupils on an Outward Bound Camp

Edwin Chinyemba was severely burnt after a burner exploded during an overnight camping with his pupils in Chimanimani Mountains in September 2013.

He sued Ms Faith Machikiti, a learner instructor with the Outward Bound Zimbabwe (Private) Limited and the company at the High Court for damages to the tune of $206 298 for negligent conduct on the basis of vicarious liability.

But Justice Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa reduced the claim to $17 267,97 after a fully-contested civil trial.

The judge found that damages in the sum of $10 000 for pain and suffering were appropriate under the circumstances. The judge said Chinyemba managed to prove his case on special damages pertaining to pecuniary loss and was entitled to the amount he sought.

“Apart from experiencing pain from the burns and the grafting procedure, he also suffered back pain from prolonged bed rest and the back pain has created health problems for the plaintiff as indicated in the evidence,” she said.

“Accordingly judgment is hereby entered for the plaintiff as against the defendants jointly and severally the one paying the other to be absolved . . . $7 267,97 for medical expenses being special damages and $10 000 as damages for pain and suffering.”

The issues for determination were whether Machikiti and her employer were liable for Mr Chinyemba’s claim and if so, what was the quantum of damages.

After hearing evidence from witnesses who testified in the suit, Justice Munangati-Manongwa found that Machikiti was negligent.

The judge also found that Machikiti’s supervisor, Mr Munyaradzi Blessed Mubiya was also negligent for leaving the learner instructor to operate the burner unsupervised, an omission that had fatal consequences.

“I, therefore, find the first defendant was negligent and due to her negligence the plaintiff ended up being injured,” said Justice Munagati-Manongwa.

“Equally the instructor failed in his duties to ensure the safety of the participants in providing adequate supervision of the first defendant.”

The liability that was attached to the company by reason of vicarious liability. The incident occurred when Machikiti was in the process of refilling the burner with methylated spirit, which is the fuel used in the burner concerned.

There was an explosion and Chinyemba who was sitting nearby was engulfed by the flames. He suffered extensive burns and had to be hospitalised. The Herald