High Court clears Sakunda COVID-19 hospital project

High Court judge Justice Happias Zhou yesterday gave Kudakwashe Tagwirei’s company, Sakunda Holdings the green light to set up a COVID-19 medical facility in a leafy suburb of Harare after dismissing an application by a resident who argued that the facility would expose them to the deadly virus.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Roger Stringer, through his lawyers Jeremiah Bhamu and Obey Shava had argued that the COVID-19 wing to be set up at Rockford Medical Centre would endanger the lives of residents living in Arundel.

He submitted that Sakunda and Health minister Obadiah Moyo were not authorised to violate his entitlement to protection and should make use of council-run facilities for infectious diseases such as Wilkins and Beatrice Road Infectious hospitals.

Stringer submitted that no measures were being put in place to minimise the exposure brought to his family by the use of such a facility as a referral centre for infectious diseases in the area.

“The site of the medical facility in question is connected to a reticulated sewer main across Norfolk Road. These are intertwined with water supply and are the same sewer reticulation mains which service the applicant’s household. This again puts the applicant and his family at greater risk of contracting the infections disease. There is presently no cure or vaccine for the infectious disease in question, which has been declared a global pandemic, which easily spread and has to date, claimed a large number of lives across various countries of the world,” he argued

But, in his ruling Justice Zhou said Stringer had failed to provide evidence of the feared exposure.

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“His exposure to the coronavirus which has not been approved by evidence must be subordinate to the public interest which can be saved by refurbishing the medical centre in question in order to establish an isolation centre,” he ruled.

In its defence, Sakunda argued that Stringer should have cited the City of Harare as the respondent since they were the licensing authority in respect to health facilities.

“The close proximity does not in itself endanger the applicant and his family given that the pandemic is not spread in the manner explained by the applicant. Applicant’s fear should not be allowed to stand in the way of the public project,” Sakunda responded.

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