Malawi Govt. to compensate Mulli K700m, court orders –report

Squeezed businessperson Leston Mulli, managing director of Mulli Brothers Limited,  may smile all the way to the bank after the High Court has ordered Malawi Government to pay two entities owned by Mulli K660,535,177.07 as compensation for the damages suffered during the July 20, 2011 anti-government demonstrations.

According to published reports, Justice Joselph Manyungwa ordered government to pay Sunrise Pharmaceuticals Limited K592,534,452.06 and Chombe Foods Limited K68,000,725.01 as compesation.

Lawyer Tamando Chokotho acting on behalf of Mulli sued the government for not compensating them as provided for in the Riot Damages Act.

The court heard that during the demonstrations, which culminated into riots, the companies’ goods and buildings located in Area 36 at Biwi in Lilongwe were damaged following the arson and damage targeting it.

Mulli: Court orders that his companie should be compesated
Mulli: Court orders that his companie should be compesated

Daily Times reported that Sunrise Pharmaceuticals and Chombe Foods, after compiling a list of the damaged items, therefore, demanded the sum of K592,534,452.06 and K68,000,725.01 respectively as compensation for goods lost during riots and for the government’s failure to comply with the Riot Damages Act.

The companies further demanded damages for loss of business, damages of loss of use of movable and immovable assets of both companies and cost of the legal action.

The paper reported that Senior State Advocate in the Attorney General’s Chambers Madalitso Kausi denied all the claims, saying the government was not liable under the Riots Damages Act (Cap 14:10 under the Laws of Malawi) and stated that there was no general right to obtain damages under the said provisions.

He further said liability lied in the hands of the organisers or convenors of the demonstrations under Section 106 of the Police Act.

However, Judge Manyungwa faulted the government for failing to compensate the companies despite approaching the Office of the President and Cabinet on the same.

“Cleary, looking at the facts in this case, and the losses suffered by the plaintiffs in the aftermath of the July 20, 2011 riots [where] losses were substantial, it is our view that the government is under an obligation to consider compensating the victims of the said riots and sadly this did not happen despite the plaintiff approaching the Office of the President and Cabinet.

“According to Section 9(1) of the Riot Damages Act, if payment cannot be made from the compensation fund, it can alternatively be made from the consolidated fund,” Manyungwa said.

He went further, handing down his ruling which went against the government.

“In these circumstances and in view of the foregoing, we are satisfied that the defendant omitted to carry out its duty and we therefore enter judgement for the first plaintiff [Sunrise Pharmaceuticals] against the defendant in the sum of K592,534,452.06 being compensation for the first plaintiff for goods lost during the riots of 20 July, 2011 and for failure by the defendant to comply with the Riot Damages Act.

“We also enter judgement for the second plaintiff [Chombe Foods] against the defendant in the sum of K68,000,725.01 for the same reasons. We also award damages to the plaintiffs for loss of business and for loss of use,” said Manyungwa, further ordering the government to foot costs for the case.

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