Former Labour and Social Welfare minister Petronella Kagonye has petitioned the High Court seeking rescission of a default judgment entered against her in a matter where war veteran Oswell Gwanzura is claiming $500 000 for defamation of character.
BY CHARLES LAITON
According to the court papers, Gwanzura filed summons against Kagonye in March this year claiming the ex-minister allegedly dumped a corpse at his homestead in Goromonzi three years ago accusing him of murdering one Taurai Jera.
In his claim, Gwanzura said Kagonye, who is also the former MP for Goromonzi South (Zanu PF), had paraded a casket of the late Jera, and invited villagers to witness the unfolding drama as she labelled him a murderer.
However, in response to the summons, Kagonye had filed an application for exception, seeking dismissal of Gwanzura’s matter on the basis that his claim was bad at law to the extent that it failed to disclose a cause of action and was also vague and embarrassing.
Kagonye further said she could not, however, properly plead to Gwanzura’s claim without being embarrassed and as such, the matter ought to be considered resolved and the exception application granted.
However, on August 1, 2018, Kagonye did not attend the court hearing and High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi ruled otherwise: “Whereupon, after reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel, it is ordered that; the exception be and is hereby dismissed with costs”.
The dismissal of her exception application then prompted her to petition the court on September 11, 2018, seeking rescission of judgment, claiming the latter had been granted in error.
“This is an application for rescission of a default order granted by this Honourable Court against me (Kagonye) on August 1, 2018, albeit in error…It has come to my attention that on August 9, 2018 my legal practitioners discovered the order complained of herein in their High Court pigeon hole. They quickly wrote to the Registrar of High Court and sought clarity,” she said.
“It is upon further investigations that my legal practitioners learnt that a default order dismissing the exception had been entered against me. Upon approaching the Sheriff, it was further discovered that the notice of set down had been served on an address other than that of my legal practitioners.”
Kagonye maintained she was never in wilful default, but had been busy with her office work and also that she had been involved in campaigning in her constituency together with Gwanzura, who was her rival.
“I must say that I was not in wilful default, the judgment was erroneously entered. I had no knowledge of the set down date and that I was required to attend court on August 1, 2018. My legal practitioners did not have knowledge too,” she said.
“… The office I was running at the time was very busy. Coupled with that, I was a Member of Parliament representing Goromonzi South Constituency at the time and I was also a contestant in the just-ended harmonised elections.
Respondent (Gwanzura) also contested for the same seat.”
The matter is pending.