Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
FORMER Zimbabwe Cricket head coach Heath Streak has filed $1 million lawsuit for alleged slanderous statements on national television and in a local newspaper he claims were made by the game’s governing body chairman, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, early this month.
Streak and the entire coaching staff were kicked out after the national team failed to qualify for the 2019 ICC World Cup following a loss at the hands of minnows United Arab Emirates in their final qualifier.
In his lawsuit filed at the High Court on Thursday, Streak is suing Mukuhlani for defamation. Court documents obtained by The Herald reveal that the litigation stemmed from early this month, when Mukuhlani while addressing journalists from the Daily News and ZBC, hit out at Streak.
Streak noted in his claim that in the context of the utterances, Mukuhlani’s intention was to convey the innuendo that the veteran cricketer was racist and that the exercise of his discretion as a coach was racially motivated.
“The utterances carry the additional sting that plaintiff (Streak) exercise of his discretion as a national coach was motivated and or an act of corruption and treason,” said Streak, who is being represented by his lawyer, Gerald Mlotshwa.
“The statement was made with the intention to defame the plaintiff and to injure the plaintiff’s reputation.”
Further, Streak argues that the utterances were understood to mean that he is a racist, corrupt and treasonous coach whose selection of the national team that played against the United Arab Emirates was solely based on race and not merit.
“ . . . the plaintiff selection of the national team that played against the United Arab Emirates was a deliberate act aimed at ensuring that the national team lost because the plaintiff owes his allegiance to the United Arab Emirates or that the plaintiff has a vendetta against the nation of Zimbabwe,” he said.
In this regard, it is Streak’s contention that Mukuhlani should have known at the time he uttered the words that his words were baseless.
He said Mukuhlani deliberately and maliciously failed to verify the accuracy and truthfulness of his malicious utterances before dishing them to journalists for the attention of the general public.
“As a result of the defendant’s defamatory utterances and resultant publication thereof, the plaintiff’s standing as professional cricketer and a patriot has been diminished and soiled locally, regionally and internationally,” he said.
Streak said his chances of securing employment elsewhere as a coach have been thwarted. “By reason of the defamatory words, the plaintiff has suffered damage to his name and reputation and in all has suffered damages in the combined amount of $1 000 000.”
Streak, though, is currently worked as a bowling coach in the Indian Premier League at the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The suit comes in the day ZC authorities also advised the media they were looking at recruiting the national team head coach, physiotherapist, medical doctor and fitness trainer ahead of a busy international season.