By Charles Laiton
Former Labour and Social Welfare minister Petronella Kagonye, who was slapped with a $500 000 lawsuit for allegedly dumping a corpse at a war veteran, Oswell Gwanzura’s premises in Goromonzi, has now been absolved from the claim after the High Court upheld her exception to the defamation claim.
Gwanzura approached the High Court last year seeking compensation from Kagonye for defaming him by allegedly dumping the corpse of one Taurai Jera at his residence after accusing him of murdering the deceased in a politically-related incident.
But in response to Gwanzura’s claim, Kagonye, who is also former Goromonzi South MP, requested for further particulars, inviting the war veteran to prove his
freedom-fighting status as well as provide proof of where, when and how he was so defamed.
Kagonye also filed an exception to the claim, saying Gwanzura’s summons lacked the necessary averments to sustain the cause of action so as to enable her to
“It is an axiomatic legal principle that the delict of defamation must be based on statements or words uttered, be they oral or written … What the plaintiff (Gwanzura) pleads as cause of action are ‘accusations of murder’ and ‘the abandoning of a dead body at the plaintiff’s place of residence’. It is pertinent and it must be accepted that a wrongful conduct cannot give rise to a defamation lawsuit. Plaintiff is offside in that regard and has no defamation cause of action against defendant (Kagonye),” the former minister said, urging the court to rule in her favour.
After hearing the matter, High Court judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta granted the order sought by Kagonye.
“Whereupon after reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel, it is ordered that the exception be and is hereby granted,” Justice Chatukuta said.
Prior to filing the exception, the ex-Zanu PF minister said before she could respond to the lawsuit, she wanted Gwanzura to clarify how she had fabricated the allegations of murder against him and how he came to know of such fabrications.
Kagonye further said she wanted Gwanzura to clarify whether he was present as well as state the date and day on which Jera’s corpse was brought to his residence by her father, Stanely, as claimed in his summons. NewsDay