Monday 26 June 2023


ZESA will pay more than US$20 000 to compensate a 22-year-old man who suffered life-changing injuries as a child after receiving electric shocks as a result of negligence by Zesa workers who left live wires in the ground.

Israel James was nine years old in November 2010 when he received electric shocks from live wires negligently left lying on the ground by the power company’s workers.

He was thrown into the air several times before he was rescued, suffering both burns and fall injuries, leaving a permanent deformity on his torso and back.

Now a grown up man, he also suffered a head injury when he was hit by a piece of a plate which holds cables together when that exploded during the accident. He was hospitalised for 19 days.

His father Mr Alphas James launched a High Court bid against ZESA’s subsidiary company, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, (ZETDC) for the injuries his son suffered.

He claimed US$250 000 being damages for pain and suffering, physical deformity, shock and trauma due to exposure to electricity.

But Justice Priscillah Munangati-Manongwa reduced the award to US$20 677 payable in local currency.

ZESA had not denied liability but challenged the quantum of damages claimed, leaving the court facing the daunting task of quantifying the damages.

In her ruling, Justice Munangati-Manongwa considered that the claim of US$250 000 was not only exorbitant, but way out of the scale of the awards granted by the courts.

ZESA had proposed an award of US$3 000 but the court considered that to be inappropriate given the extent of the injuries, pain and physical and mental suffering experienced by the Israel.

The court also refused to consider the proposal by Mr James that considerations should be made to the fact that the injured boy was a male child hence this would affect his ability to look after his family when he ultimately marries.

“This would amount to speculation which has no place in the legal realm,” said Justice Munangati-Manongwa.

“Further where damages for pain and suffering are concerned future repercussions on the person of the claimant may require to be substantiated by medical reports lest the courts blindly rely on unfounded claims by a litigant seeking to maximize on the culpability of the defendant.”

The judge noted that damages were never meant to penalise the negligent party but to achieve justice and place the plaintiff in a position he would have been before the occurrence of the incident, and at the same time being fair towards all the parties.

Sometime in November 2010, then a nine-year-old Israel suffered the severe electric shocks after transmission poles fell following a rain storm.

The poles were very old. The boy had removed his shoes to preserve them as he walked from school.

He was pulled by an electric current from the live electricity cables which were lying on the ground and thrown into the air several times before he was rescued. Herald


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