Zimpapers appeal $10 000 defamation damages after Tererai Mugwadi article


Zimpapers yesterday approached the Supreme Court alongside its journalists Mthandazo Dube and Eddie Dhliwayo seeking to challenge the $10 000 defamation damages granted by the High Court in favour of urban grooves artiste Tererai Mugwadi over her tarnished reputation.

The appeal by Zimpapers came about after High Court judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba ruled that an article publicised in The Sunday Mail on July 3, 2011, titled Tererai on drugs was defamatory and as such Mugwadi was entitled to compensation.

Justice Chigumba then ordered the publishing house and its journalists to pay $10 000 which the latter have since challenged in the Supreme Court.

However, the matter failed to kick off after Zimpapers lawyer Advocate Sylvester Hashiti applied for the striking-off of the matter from the roll saying his client’s papers were not in order.

The matter was then, by consent, struck off the roll by appeal judges Justices Elizabeth Gwaunza, Anne-Mary Gowora and Susan Mavangira.

In her judgment at the High Court, Justice Chigumba said: “The plaintiff testified and told the court that she is a legal secretary at Mugwadi & Associates, as well as a musician, a singer/songwriter. She told the court that the article which was published by the defendants was destructive, and that it made her career suffer tremendously, because after it was published people believed that she was unable to function.”

The judge also said in justifying her claims, Mugwadi testified that she received negative comments from her fans on social media networks like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, and that random strangers would approach her even while aboard commuter omnibuses and would castigate and ridicule her about the contents of the article.

“She became reclusive, and afraid to show her face in public. She said that members of her family received concerned phone calls from family members residing overseas who had read the article online and had lost some lucrative music engagements,” Justice Chigumba said.

“Taking all the above factors into account, including the effect that social media platforms have had on the extent and speed of publication, as well as our country’s obligations in terms of international and regional protocols and conventions, as well as the provisions in our new Constitution . . . I am satisfied that an award of US$10 000-00 is justified in this case.”