Journalist wins defamation case against Muvi TV after 10 years

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Journalist Francis Maingaila has won a defamation case before the Supreme Court against Muvi Television after a 10 year battle.

In a judgement delivered on June 4, the Supreme Court, which sat in Ndola, ruled in favour of Maingaila and awarded him damages including costs and interests from the time the action was commenced 10 years ago.

The case has been running from 2009. Maingaila was an employee of Muvi TV when he was accused of defiling a minor aged 15 years. Muvi Television publicised on its main news on July 30, 2009 that Maingaila defiled a minor which led to his arrest, prosecution and eventual acquittal.

Maingaila’s defilement case was determined by the Magistrate Court in which he was acquitted in 2012. Thereafter, Maingaila sued Muvi TV for defamation of character in Lusaka high Court.

In his statement of claim in 2012, Maingaila claimed  for aggravated damages for libel and special damages for mental distress.

The former Muvi TV journalist also claimed for  any other relief or remedy the court may deem fit. He also claimed that Muvi Television through its servants or agents and others with intent to defame him conspired to falsely circulate and broadcast malicious and incriminating rumors or publication that he had defiled an under-age girl.

Maingaila further contended that the move caused his arrest, detention and prosecution save for his acquittal by a court of law.

But in defense Muvi TV claimed that  Maingaila did not suffer any damages and not entitled to any of the reliefs as pleaded and requested that the claim be dismissed with costs.

The High Court ruled in favour of Maingaila but Muvi TV through its lawyers appealed the judgement in the supreme Court of appeals. 

The supreme Court has ruled that there is no justification for publishing lies and  guess work. The  court also said that there must be  no justification for hearsays or rumours in the pretext that a journalist was told by the informer or source 

“The burden is on the publisher to prove that what was told is actually true in both material and substance before having it publishing” the court ruled.

When making its judgement, the Supreme Court rejected all the 3 grounds of appeal made by Muvi TV on account that it was dangerous for journalists to relay hearsays and condemned Muvi TV to damages with costs and interests from the time the action was commenced 10 years ago.

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31