BY CHARLES LAITON
The Supreme Court has overturned a High Court ruling ordering the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to pay accident damages amounting to US$33 552 to a local company.
The judgment, nullifying the lower court’s decision, was handed down on September 26, 2019, by Supreme Court judge Justice Rita Makarau in concurrence with Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza and Justice Paddington Garwe.
The ruling by the Apex Court followed an appeal by the central bank after the High Court, in 2016, ruled that an RBZ driver, one Joram Makonde, was responsible for an accident that occurred on August 27, 2008 along the Harare-Masvingo Highway which resulted in damages to Tran Transport (Pvt) Ltd’s motor vehicle.
However, Justice Makarau said the appeal by the central bank was based on whether or not the High Court had sufficient evidence before it to find the RBZ liable for the claimed damages.
The judge further said the High Court had fallen into a trap of believing evidence of a Tran Transport’s witness who said a policeman, who was a passenger in the RBZ vehicle claimed that the RBZ driver fell asleep while driving, thereby causing the accident. Apparently, the judge said, the alleged policeman was never called to give evidence.
“The respondent’s (Tran Transport) witness did not testify on the circumstances under which the unidentified policeman was a passenger in the appellant (RBZ)’s vehicle. They simply testified as to what the policeman said. There was, thus, no evidence before the court upon which it could make its finding that the unidentified policeman had been given transport to Harare and for which he was grateful,” Justice Makarau said.
“One of the witnesses for the respondent testified that the unidentified policeman had been injured as a result of the accident. The court a quo was not in a position to assess the effect these injuries might have had on the policeman on the basis of the terse and scanty evidence that was before it. Similarly, the amity and/or the congeniality among the persons riding in the appellant’s vehicle were not assessed as there was no evidence upon which such an assessment could be made. That these factors could have had an effect on the truthfulness of the statement attributed to the unidentified policeman is beyond dispute,” the judge said while upholding the RBZ’s appeal and dismissing Tran Transport’s application for damages.