Q&A – 17 June 2024

Claims for electrocution

My brother (now deceased) was cycling when he came into contact with a low-hanging, live power line. He suffered serious burns leading to his death. As administrator of his estate, I lodged a complaint with the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) against Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) as the owner and operator of the power line for negligence. Someone has informed me EWURA is not the right forum to complain to. Is this true? I want justice for my brother. He died so young leaving behind his pregnant wife. Please guide me.
GH, Mwanza

We are sorry for your loss. The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority Act, Cap. 414 (the EWURA Act), gives EWURA the mandate to handle complaints. Specifically, section 34(1) of the EWURA Act states that EWURA can receive any complaint against a supplier of regulated goods or services in relation to any matter connected with the supply, possible supply or purported supply of the goods or services. Further, section 34(7) of the EWURA Act adds that for the purposes of dealing with consumer complaints, the Authority will establish a dedicated unit in each Division to receive and follow up on complaints from consumers. The consumer complaint process is regulated by the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Consumer Complaints Settlement Procedure) Rules, 2012 (G. N. No. 10 of 2013) (the Rules). Rule 4 provides that any person may file a complaint against a regulated supplier in respect of any matter connected with the regulated services by completing and filing with the Authority the complaint form prescribed in the First Schedule of the Rules.

Our reading of section 34(1) and (7) of the EWURA Act with the Rules, it is clear that  complaints may be filed by any customer in relation to supply, possible supply or purported supply of regulated services. To put it briefly, in order for any person to successfully lodge a complaint under the EWURA Act, he must be able to establish the existence of the customer/supplier relationship. As you have stated, the nature of your complaint is on the alleged tort of negligence. We do not have all the facts but assume that you want TANESCO to be held responsible for your brother’s death. Much as we sympathize with you, this matter does not qualify as a complaint within the context of section 34 of the EWURA Act. In that regard, it is our considered opinion that the manner in which your brother died is beyond the mandate of EWURA.

Having said the above, not all hope is lost and you may still bring an action based on negligence through the ordinary Court system. Your lawyer can guide you further.

Maternity leave when a child dies

My wife and I are public servants and had our second child early this year. Unfortunately, the baby died while my wife was on her maternity leave.  We are still determined to expand our family. Is my wife still allowed to take her maternity leave in the next pregnancy? I know there is a restriction but I am not sure what happens when a child dies. We have asked our colleagues and friends and no one seems to have the answers. Kindly guide us.
JP, Rukwa

Regulation 97 of the Public Service Regulations, 2022 (G.N. No. 444 of 2022) provides that a female public servant will be granted a paid maternity leave of 84 days once in 3 years from the date she completed her last maternity leave. However, maternity leave cannot be carried forward and shall be exclusive of the annual leave of a female public servant for the calendar year in which the maternity leave is taken. Where a female public servant has availed herself of the whole or part of her maternity leave in relation to any pregnancy and the pregnancy results in abortion or a child dies within 365 days of the delivery, the female public servant is still entitled to maternity leave in relation to the subsequent pregnancy notwithstanding the 3 year restriction.  Based on the information you shared with us, your wife will not lose her right to maternity leave. Your lawyer can guide you further.

Identity theft on social media

I recently discovered a person using my identity on various social media platforms. I have politely asked them to stop but they have refused. The impersonator claims it is not a crime since there is no physical harm. Is this true? What does the law say about impersonating another person online?
JM, Lindi

We are sorry to hear about this. Impersonating another person online is a criminal offence. According to section 15 of the Cybercrimes Act (Act No. 14 of 2015), it is prohibited for a person to use a computer system to impersonate another person. A person who does so commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to a fine of not less than TZS 5M or three times the value of undue advantage received by that person, whichever is greater, or to imprisonment for a term of not less than 7 years or to both. There is no requirement for physical harm to be present in order to hold an impersonator accountable. Since it is a criminal offence, you are advised to report this person to the police for further action. Your lawyer can guide you further.