Rape pregnancy sparks $10 000 lawsuit

?????????????????????????Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
A rape victim, Mildred Mapingure, has approached the High Court for quantification of damages in a case in which she is seeking $10 000 compensation against the State for failing to provide her access to safe abortion.

The case was referred to the High Court for quantification of damages by the Supreme Court last year. In its landmark ruling, the superior court found the State vicariously liable for the pain and suffering Mapingure endured after the police and Government doctors failed to prevent her preg- nancy.

Mapingure was attacked and raped during a robbery at her Chegutu home nine years ago, and fell pregnant. Her efforts to have lawful abortion failed as a result of State workers’ negligence.

Through her lawyer, Mr Isaiah Mureriwa of Scanlen and Holderness, Mapingure brought the claim before Justice Esther Muremba to determine the quantification of the damages.

Justice Muremba reserved judgment saying she wanted time to make an assessment of an appropriate quantum in the circumstances of this case which is new in Zimbabwe.

Mr Mureriwa, in the application, submitted that the claim of $10 000 for damages for physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering experienced by Mapingure was reasonable and justified.

He said the Supreme Court in its ruling conceded the novelty of the case.

“Never in this jurisdiction had the court been called upon to determine the extent of aqualian liability, particularly in such a case where a woman who fell pregnant as a result of a rape sought damages for failure by the authorities to prevent such pregnancy,” said Mr Mureriwa.

“The novelty extends to the matter before this court. There are no comparable cases within this jurisdiction to guide this court in awarding damages.”

Mr Mureriwa, who sought to persuade the court to agree to accept the claim, relied on several cases from other jurisdictions that have dealt with cases which he argued were similar to the Mapingure case.

The lawyer insisted that the damages should be paid as at the time she filed her suit in 2006 plus interests at the prescribed rate per annum.

Ministers of Home Affairs and Health and Child Care Dr Ignatius Chombo and Dr David Parirenyatwa respectively, who are cited as defendants in the suit, did not respond to the application.