Ex-Zupco chairman Nherera wins US$130k lawsuit for malicious prosecution

HARARE – Businessman Jayesh Shah has been ordered to pay former ZUPCO board chairman Charles Nherera US$130,000 for malicious prosecution.

Nherera was jailed for two years in 2006 for soliciting for a bribe from Shah, who operated Gift Investments, so that his company could be awarded a tender to supply Mazda Swaraj buses to Zupco.

After completing his sentence, the High Court heard his appeal and quashed the conviction.

Nherera subsequently sued Shah for US$400,000, accusing him of raising false accusations to get him jailed

Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, in a ruling delivered on December 16, found in favour of Nherera but reduced his award saying the amount he was seeking was excessive.

Justice Mathonsi ordered Shah to compensate Nherera in the sum of US$130,000 which should be paid in local currency at the prevailing interbank rate on the date of payment.

The court ruled that the arrest of Nherera was driven by malice.

“The criminal complaint by Shah as has been shown was without foundation and intended to cause harm or injury to Nherera,” Justice Mathonsi ruled.

“Nherera was held in very appalling and humiliating prison conditions. He was taken away from his family and lost his job and other contacts. In fact, the loss of liberty in itself is such deprivation of a constitutional right that it cannot be countenanced where the basis for it is malice. I have related to the financial loss which the plaintiff had to bear over and above all else to show that indeed considerable compensation is called for.

“This court has found that there was no reasonable and probable cause for the arrest of Nherera. Accordingly, the report made by Shah could not have been made in good faith and it was false. As a result, the existence of malice on the defendant’s part is inferred from the absence of reasonable and probable cause by operation of law.

“In the result, it be and is hereby ordered that the judgment is entered in favour of the plaintiff against the defendant in the sum of US$30,000 for malicious prosecution and in the sum of US$100,000 for malicious arrest and detention… The defendant shall bear costs of suit.”

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