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Q&A – 25 September 2017

Shower too hot

I came to Dar and stayed at a top notch hotel. When taking a hot shower, I burnt myself very badly as the shower water was very hot. I talked to the hotel boss that as part of compensation he allows me to stay free for one week but he is refusing. I have reported him to the Tanzania Tourist Board but they have not taken any action. What should I do?
PL, Dar

In the showers that we know of, there are two knobs- one for cold water and the other for hot water. We are sure the “top notch” hotel you stayed in would have the same facility. Hence we are unsure how you burnt yourself in the shower? That is probably what the hotel owner is asking himself. Whilst we do sympathize with you, it is unlikely that you will recover if it was your own fault. If the shower on its own suddenly changed from hot to extremely hot, then you might not be responsible and a cause of action against the hotel does exist. You can then surely sue but we suggest you consult your attorney before making any moves.

Power cut in operating theatre

One of my relatives was being operated upon when power failed. The hospitals generator was not working and it was by mere luck that our relative survived. He had to be flown out for treatment and spent about 6 weeks in hospital. Can we take the hospital to task? 
OM, Dar

It is known that there are frequent power shortages in Dar and for a hospital that has a theatre not to have a back up generator or have a generator that does not work is extremely dangerous and also highly negligent of the hospital. From the facts you have given us, we believe you have a very good case in which you can claim all kinds of damages. However Tanzanian Courts are not known to give large amounts in damages. Your lawyer can guide you further.

My son is a thief

I am a widow and have a son who is a thief. I don’t support his activities but yet I can’t turn him in either although I am fully aware of where he keeps his stolen properties. I thought I was safe until the police questioned me for hours in relation to my son’s activities and I clearly refused to give my son up. The police told me that if I don’t give him up they will also arrest me for aiding and abetting? As a mother I am doing the best for my child. Please guide me what I should do in such circumstances?
GO, Morogoro

As much as we sympathize with you, the Penal Code states that every person who does or omits to do any act for the purpose of enabling or aiding another person, commits an offence, and may be charged with actually committing it. To elaborate this provision, you are withholding information to the police that your son is a thief; you even know where he keeps his stolen properties hence you are omitting to do what is right to prevent your son from stealing again. Due to that, you can be charged and convicted of aiding and abetting to which you will be charged and convicted of theft and be imprisoned as a thief although you didn’t actually commit theft. The Penal Code further states that, a person who receives or assists another who is, to his/her definition of knowledge, guilty of an offence, in order to enable him to escape a punishment; is said to become an accessory after the fact to the fact offence and any such person who becomes an accessory after the fact to felony is guilty of felony, and is liable, if no other punishment is provided, to imprisonment for seven years. From the foregoing provision, you can also be charged of an offence of accessory after the fact and that can land you in prison for seven years. With the above in mind, and in order for you to not get in trouble you self, you will have to report him.

Testimony of a child

I came home drunk and I hit my wife so bad in front of our six year old girl until she was admitted to the hospital. I regret what I did and my wife has forgiven me. We told the police that she was beaten by thieves who attacked her on her way home but the medical report says that it is impossible that such a beating came from thieves and the police are now reinvestigating the matter. I know my wife won’t testify against me, but I am worried that our daughter will be called. Is it possible for a child as young as six years to give testimony? Will it carry any value? Please advice
KM, Mwanza

Yes, a testimony of a child is acceptable in any Court of law and it carries weight depending on the age of the child and how she testifies in Court. The child witness is normally submitted to some questioning by the judge/magistrate to establish if she understands the duty to speak the truth. If the Court is satisfied that she understands the duty to speak the truth, the Court will take her testimony and rely on it. Be reminded mostly children’s testimony carries high value because it is a general belief that children are unlikely to tell a lie.

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