MUTINTA MULAYE writes
FOR taking the law in her own hands a Lusaka woman had her claim for compensation over defamation of character case dismissed by a local court.
Susan Mulenga, 32, of Garden House stated before senior local court magistrate Contilda Kamono of Boma Local Court that she worked with Catherine Tembo, 40, of Lusaka West in the market where they were trading.
Mulenga told the court that after her husband died, Tembo followed her where she worked and called her a happy widow because she had gained some weight and was looking good.
“She told me that I was looking like I was taking ARVs. Each time she met me she would say ‘happy widow, happy widow’. I even decided to move and went to sell my things from somewhere else,” Mulenga testified.
She said Tembo followed her even where she had shifted to. “One time I was with my mother and she was not happy with what she heard this woman saying to me. She told me the way we related was not okay,” Mulenga said.
She said because Tembo had troubled her so much, she followed her to where she used to work from and waited for her to finish attending to a customer.
“It was around 19:00 hours. We started fighting and afterwards she even went to the police where we were both locked up,” Mulenga testified. She said Tembo claimed that she had lost about K1,800 after they fought and when they went to the market committee, Mulenga was ordered to refund her.
“I decided to come to court because this woman tarnished my name and told people I am a happy widow who is taking ARVs,” Mulenga said.
In her submission Tembo said that when Mulenga’s husband died, she was always there for her and supported her fully. “I helped her during her trying times. Another friend of ours came to me and asked how Susan was doing and all I said was that she was living happily. Then after some time I heard that I had been telling her that she’s a happy widow,” Tembo said.
She said she knelt down and apologised to Mulenga if at all she had wronged her in any way because she had never said anything about her taking ARVs.
“She followed me where I was selling and beat me. We went to the police where we were both locked up,” Tembo told the court. The court found that defamation of character happened.
However, it threw out Mulenga’s claim for compensation because she had taken the law in her own hands by going to attack Tembo instead of taking the matter to court.