Man fined livestock for wearing red during rainy season appeals

HARARE – A teenage boy from Nyanga was forced to hand over goats, chickens and cash as a penalty for wearing red clothing during the rainy season, a court heard.

Fungai Mushonga, a headman in Tumunesa Village, imposed the punishment during a sitting of his traditional court after accusing the 15-year-old of breaching a long-standing custom.

The wearing of red clothes during a thunderstorm is believed to attract lightning in some African cultures.

Human rights lawyers have intervened and taken up the matter on appeal at the Magistrates Court in Nyanga. They argue that the boy was too young to be tried without his guardian present.

The lawyers also say Mushonga broke the law when he sent his aides to seize four goats, two chickens and US$20 from the boy’s grandfather, Peter Makunura, when he was not party to the proceedings.

Through his lawyers Kelvin Kabaya and Peggy Tavagadza of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers (ZLHR), Makunura wants his livestock and cash returned.

“Mushonga’s decision to summon a minor child to appear in court without his guardian, and to permit the Messenger of Court to attach and take into execution Makunura’s property, when he was never a party to the proceedings and was never summoned to appear in the primary court, was grossly irregular and amounts to an illegality,” said the lawyers.

The lawyers also contended that the decision by Mushonga to enter a judgment in default in circumstances involving a minor child was grossly irregular as to induce a sense of shock and revulsion.

Kabaya and Tavagadza want Mushonga’s judgment to be set aside and that he be ordered to pay back the four goats, two chickens and US$20 to Makunura.

Mushonga is opposing the application. He argued that it is taboo in his jurisdiction for his subjects to “wear red clothing during the rainy season.”

The village head also said he could not ascertain the age of Makunura’s grandson for him to realise that he was a minor.

Nyanga magistrate Notebulgar Muchineripi is yet to hand down judgment on Makunura’s application.

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