Landmark ruling on adultery beckons
By Daniel Nemukuyu
The Constitutional Court will next week determine whether or not adultery damages are still justifiable in a democratic society like Zimbabwe.
A Harare nurse Ms Lorraine Matione, who lost her bid to have adultery damages quashed at the High Court in a matter in which she is being sued to the tune of $25 000 for having an adulterous affair with a married senior police officer, wants the Constitutional Court to declare the damages unconstitutional.
Ms Matione, through her lawyer Mr Wellington Pasipanodya, argued that claiming adultery damages from a third party who was not party to a marriage contract was unconstitutional.
She is accused of knowingly having an adulterous affair with Mr Lawrence Muzvondiwa Njodzi, an assistant commissioner with the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Mr Njodzi is legally married to Mrs Georgina Njodzi who is also an officer with the ZRP.
Mrs Njodzi sued Ms Matione for adultery at the High Court and claimed $25 000 in damages.
Opposing the suit, Ms Matione contested the legality of the claim at the High Court and a judge threw out her challenge. Dissatisfied with the outcome, Ms Matione approached the Constitutional Court seeking an order declaring adultery damages unconstitutional.
The parties filed all the relevant papers at the Constitutional Court and the matter will now be heard by the nine-member bench on Wednesday next week.
Ms Matione contested adultery damages at a time when some Zimbabweans were excited about the recent South African judgment outlawing adultery damages, hoping the local courts would follow suit.
Mr Pasipanodya argued that having an affair with a married man was not legally wrong but only wrong on moral grounds.
He said it was the duty of the married couples to protect and safeguard their unions and not third parties.
He said if a spouse was aggrieved by infidelity or adultery, the only two remedies were divorce and reconciliation.
Mr Pasipanodya told the court that adultery was not the cause of divorce in the case of his client.
He said the law must be amended to make it clear that spouses should be responsible for protecting and safeguarding their marriages.
Mr Nyasha Munyuru of Muvingi and Mugadza Law Firm opposed the application saying Ms Matione was fully aware of the marriage between Mr and Mrs Njodzi and must be sued.
He said Zimbabwe must not be guided by decisions of courts in other countries, as situations and circumstances were different.
Mr Munyuru said in most cases, adultery was the cause of breakdown of marriages and the perpetrators should be punished.
He said granting the constitutional challenge would have the effect of opening up doors to promiscuity in these days of HIV and a Aids
Mr Munyuru said Zimbabwe was a country dominated by Christians and a decision legalising adultery would be against Christian values. The Herald