Chief Court Reporter
Diamond miner Marange Resources has to pay Harare lawyer and Mudzi South MP, Mr Jonathan Samukange , the equivalent at the official rate of US$230 000 for using his truck for 11 years without payment.
The High Court made the award in the civil suit based on the value of the truck 11 years ago, which can also be deemed the value the miner has received from the truck over the same period.
Marange Resources stopped operations in February 2016 when Government directed all diamond mining firms to stop working for breaching their contracts.
The ruling by Justice Owen Tagu comes after Mr Samukange sued Marange for “unjust enrichment”, a legal term for using another person’s property to make money without paying.
He ruled in favour of Mr Samukange after a fully contested civil hearing, finding that his testimony was more credible and corroborated by the defendant’s sole witness.
The miner also has to pay 5 percent a year interest from August 2009 to the date of full and final payment.
With compound interest, this comes to a total of the equivalent of a little over US$393 000.
Justice Tagu noted that Marange’s defence to the claim was based on falsehoods, leaving him with no option, but to invoke the point of law that if a litigant lies in one material respect, “the court will be entirely justified in taking the view that he has lied in all other respects and in treating him accordingly”.
The dispute between the parties started when Mr Samukange imported the Toyota Dyna from South Africa in 2005. Three years later, he entered into a mining agreement with Robert van der Merwe, to operate at Benson Mine in Mutoko. But three months later, the truck was taken to Marange without Mr Samukange’s knowledge, where his business partner entered into a mining joint venture for diamonds with the diamond mining concern.
The vehicle was in August 2009 impounded by police in Mutare for failure to have a valid licence but after negotiations the truck was released into the hands of Marange where it is to date.
When issued with summons, Marange denied ever taking delivery of the truck or using it.
However, it emerged during the hearing that the firm used his truck for over 11 years without paying a cent.
This was corroborated by former Marange chief executive officer Mr Obert Dube.
He testified that the company used the truck and conceded under cross-examination that it has generated value out of such use over the years.