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Hokonya sues for defamation

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Suspended Zifa board member Patrick Hokonya on Tuesday wrote to a local daily, The Herald, demanding a retraction on an article carried by the paper he termed “unfounded and maliciously defamatory allegations”.

Hokonya through his lawyer Charles Paul Moyo of Moyo/Nyoni Legal Practitioners, wrote challenging the accuracy of the paper’s November 30 sports article headlined Referees scandal — Zifa board members implicated.

The story fingered Hokonya — who is the Central Region chairman along with his Southern Region counterpart Gift Banda — as part of a clique of administrators who were involved in the match-fixing scandal that has rocked the Central Region.

The duo has since been suspended from the Zifa board pending investigations.

Hokonya gave The Herald seven days to make a retraction, failure of which he would sue the paper for $250 000.

“In the eyes of the ordinary reader our client is seen as being involved in the corruption that is alleged to be part of the Central Region. This is far from the truth. Our client is not involved in any manner with corruption,” read part of the letter dated December 6.

“Read in the context of the whole, article would be interpreted by the ordinary reader that our client is indeed part of a corrupt scheme and that he is not fit to hold the office of the chairperson of the Zifa Central Region. This article and its unfounded allegations have tarnished our client’s reputation.

The article is deliberately defamatory as no efforts were made by its author to authenticate all the unfounded and maliciously defamatory allegations.

“The article makes further allegations about our client’s allegedly corrupt conduct. It states that our client when confronted by the board’s vice-chairperson was ‘shocked’ and he collapsed during a meeting of the Zifa Board.

This allegation is not true. It seeks to imply that our client admitted to allegations by fainting; a result of the old fashioned trial by ordeal.

“Our client finds these allegations, again to be defamatory and injurious to his good name and reputation. No efforts were made by the author to verify the facts reported.

“We can only understand this to be a deliberate attempt by the author and his informants to defame our client.

“For these reasons, our client has instructed us to demand, as we hereby do, that you withdraw your allegations about him. You are to publish a full retraction and apology to our client in your newspaper.

You are to give this the same prominence as the original article. If this is not done within seven days we are instructed to institute legal action for defamatory damages in the sum of $250 000.”

Banda has also laid criminal defamation charges against Cosmas Nyoni who implicated him in the match-fixing scandal and has already given a statement to the police.

Hokonya is declaring his innocence by questioning why Zifa’s star witness Cosmas Nyoni changed his statement about the match-fixing scandal.

In his written submissions under oath in an affidavit, Nyoni did not implicate anyone, but later shifted goalposts fingering Hokonya and Banda in a sudden U-turn before the referees’ committee.

In a sworn statement, Nyoni wrote: “What happened, is I was asked to appoint referees for the Central Region for games involving teams fighting for promotion.

I then appointed referees, but the referees were queried on the grounds that they were not suitable and there were changes made by the chairperson of the referees’ committee.”

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