Bonyongwe loses defamation case

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The High Court has quashed a default judgment in which Central Intelligence Organisation Director-General Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe was awarded $10 million defamation damages against Africa Consolidated Resources boss Mr Andrew Cranswick.

Justice Happias Zhou described the $10 million as a strange award in Zimbabwe considering that most damages awarded since the introduction of the multi-currency system ranged from $2 000 to $7 000.

Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe sued Mr Cranswick over a WikiLeaks report that linked him to alleged diamond looting in Chiadzwa. In 2012, High Court Judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo granted a default judgment against Mr Cranswick and ordered him to pay costs of the suit.

The decision was made after Mr Cranswick’s defence papers were struck out of the record for failure to attend pre-trial conferences.

Mr Jonathan Samukange successfully challenged the default judgment on behalf of Mr Cranswick. Justice Happias Zhou, in a judgment delivered yesterday, set aside the default judgment and ordered the reinstatement of Mr Cranswick’s opposing papers.

He also directed the parties to go through the normal court process starting from the pre-trial conference.

“Taking into account all the relevant factors, I am convinced that good and sufficient cause has been established for this court to set aside the default judgment.

“The effect of my order is to reinstate the applicant’s defence which was struck out. In the result, it is ordered that the order granted in Case Number 275 /11 in default of the applicant on November 16, 2012 be and is hereby set aside.”

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