Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
A former employee of agro-processing company Cairns Foods Limited, won an award of more than $2,6 million after he was wrongly fired from employment 25 years ago.
Mr Stanford Selemani suffered a mental problem in 1987, resulting in his employment contract being terminated in 1992, on charges of absenteeism.
At the time he was fired, Mr Selemani was reporting for duty religiously. He sought retirement on medical grounds, but the company decided to fire him arguing absenteeism following his admission at Harare Psychiatric Unit for treatment.
Mr Selemani successfully sued the company at the Labour Court and High Court. The courts found that Cairns Foods should have terminated Mr Selemani’s contract on medical grounds, since he had offered to go on health grounds.
Cairns Foods, which has recently exited judicial management after securing an investor to revamp operations, is set to suffer a huge setback as Mr Selemani is now seeking to attach the company’s assets.
He has since obtained a writ of execution, which enables him to attach and auction Cairns property to recover $2 614 380 plus interest that is due to him.
“I am entitled to compensation and punitive damages for the agony and distress I went through over these years at the hands of this company,” said Mr Selemani, who has fully recovered from his illness.
An avid Bible reader, Mr Selemani said the company was now facing the wrath of law for making him suffer.
“The Bible is clear, hate what is wrong,” he said while quoting Romans 12:9, “Stand on the side of the good.”
Mr Selemani alluded to another biblical verse, Romans 13 verse 2, which says: “So, those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.”
Due to his illness at the time the matter was brought to court years back, Mr Selemani was under the curatorship of his son Brian in terms of the law.
The court appointed Brian as a curator ad litem. A curator ad litem is a legal representative in Scots law and Roman-Dutch law appointed by a court to represent, during legal proceedings, the best interests of a person, who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Cairns Foods is now challenging the writ of execution granted against it, saying the curator was not involved in the writ case.
The company, which is being represented by Atherstone and Cook, is arguing that Mr Selemani prosecuted the case against the law, which does not allow a person incapacitated to litigate.
It is also contesting the manner in which the summons and declaration were drafted.