Lawyer Kwima Mchizi representing late Kottana Chidyaonga’s boyfriend Timothy Mtilosanje has filed defamation lawsuit against Facebook user Gerald Chavez Kampanikiza aka GCK Cameras.
Mtilosanje and three others — Ekaree Daniella Chaweza, Gilbert Ufulu Kalamiza, and Diana Bhagwanji— were acquitted by the High Court on a murder charge of their friend Chidyaonga.
Chidyaonga, 23, died on January 3 2020 and according to police statements, the four said she died from a snake bite.
On January 22, 2020 GCK posted on Facebook: “They managed to get a snake and it turned out that the snake was a non-poisonous one; already the snake issue is ruled out. How did they come up with snake plan and how long?”
But lawyer Mchizi representing Mtilosanje, a digital marketer and a brand name under Timmy said the words implied his client had a hand in the death of his girlfriend and fabricated a story about a cover up, saying the narrative was viciously false.
In a letter the lawyer writes Kampanikiza, a politician for People’s Party (PP): “Any reasonable person would construe the words to mean that our client is a liar, murder and dishonest,” adding “as a result of your words our client has been lowered in the estimation of right thinking members of society generally and he has exposed to ridicule contempt and hatred.”
Kampanikiza has been asked to “delete the said post with immediate effect” and tasked to publish using the same a retraction and apology for the damage caused.
Reads the letter: “You have 24 hours to do this. That you further more pay K50 million being damages as well as costs for the injuries caused on our client’s reputation.”
Mchizi said they will commence legal proceedings if the demands are not met according Mtilosanje’s instructions. The summon which is dated 29th October gives Kampanikiza seven days to respond.
Judge Thomson Ligowe said the evidence before the High Court did not prove any snake bite nor that the deceased was given any wrong drug, but rather that there was presence of a pesticide, Termik, in her body.
He observed that the State lacked evidence on who might have given the deceased the poison.
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala has said the State will appeal the acquittal.
Defamation involves writing or saying something about someone that damages that person’s reputation.
Legal experts say posting something negative or mean-spirited is not in itself illegal or subject to a lawsuit. However, the question of whether you can be sued for negative post on social media depends on whether your words constitute defamation.
- A published falsehood that damages a person’s character can be libel.
- A published opinion is not libel.
- If the target is a public figure, the post must be proven to be both false and malicious, or deliberate.