Q&A – 18 July 2011

Divorce after wife’s death

I am widower living in southern part of Tanzania. My wife passed away four years ago. During my wife’s lifetime we celebrated a Christian marriage and had 4 children. After many years of loneliness I have now found a woman who is willing to get married to me and take care of my children. A good friend of mine suggests I get a divorce before I get married. He says that the law recognizes a Court’s order of divorce alone as an end of marriage proof. What do I need to do?
PJ, Songea

Your friend is wrong. The law of Marriage Act considers marriage as a voluntary union of a man and a woman intended to last for their joint life. In order for a marriage to exist both the woman and the man must be alive. Since your wife has passed away, you are no longer in marriage. In other words you are legally competent to contract another marriage if at all you desire to do so. You need not get a divorce as it simply doesn’t apply in your case.

Car ordered on internet

I ordered a car from a website and made payment in foreign currency. We reduced everything regarding this transaction into writing for record purposes including my rights in case of breach. Unfortunately it has been six months and I have not seen any car coming to the port. I keep on getting false promises and my request to get a refund has been denied. I want to go to court to claim the advances and am told that our Courts have no power to decide on claims made in foreign currencies. I need to sue in foreign currency since the local currency has depreciated and I will stand to lose out on the exchange rate difference. What should I do?
PP, Dar

Since 1992 when the Foreign Exchange Ordinance was repealed by Foreign Exchange Act No 1 of 1992, Courts in Tanzania have jurisdiction to determine all kinds of suits where the claim is denominated in foreign currencies. The old legislation prohibited dealings and/or payments within Tanzania for the credit of persons resident outside Tanzania except with the permission of the Treasury which in turn limited the Court’s reach in certain transactions. You can hence claim in the currency you transacted it.

Perhaps more challenging in your case is the fact that you transacted on the internet. We are concerned as to who you will sue and if you are successful how you will execute the judgment against that company or person. You need to take this into consideration before filing a suit. Your attorneys can guide you further

Nigerian wife, Tanzanian citizenship

I am a Tanzanian and recently got married to a Nigerian lady. Someone told me that she is now a Tanzanian and can go collect her passport. Is this automatic?
LH, Dar

Your marriage does not entitle your wife to automatically get Tanzanian citizenship, show up at immigration and collect her passport. She merely becomes eligible to apply for citizenship. The application process is quite straight forward with one of the conditions being that she has to renounce her former, in this case Nigerian, citizenship.

Rejection of defence of alibi

I was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for house breaking and stealing. During the defence hearing, I told the magistrate that on day of the incident, I was in another village with my girlfriend. The magistrate rejected my defence on the ground that I did not inform the police prior that I was in another village. The magistrate also added in his judgment that I did not bring my girlfriend to testify. I did not tell the police because they never asked and my girlfriend did not come because she was pregnant. Was I required to give a notice of my whereabouts on the night of the incident prior to the trial in Court? The prosecution only brought one witness to testify against me. Can one witness alone lead to conviction?
ZC, Kigoma

In criminal law, an accused person who wishes to rely on the defence of alibi i.e. your whereabouts on the day of the incident, should inform the police or the Court promptly prior to the commencement of the case. The police will then visit the person you claim to have been with to confirm what you claim. In your case, since you did not disclose this prior, you were required to make an application to the magistrate explaining reasons for your delay. Upon leave, you could then use your defence of alibi. Failure to do that can entitle the court to refuse this defence. The reason behind this principle is to prevent accused person from colluding with 3rd parties. The longer the accused takes to disclose the alibi, the higher the chances that the defence will be taken as having been fabricated and be disallowed.

As for your girlfriend’s pregnancy, unless a medical condition did not allow her to come as a witness, we do not quite understand why she did not testify. If we are to believe what you are saying, your girlfriend would have been your star witness especially if she would have survived the prosecutor’s cross examination.

Coming to the issue of one witness. If that one witness testimony is watertight, it is not necessary for the witness’s testimony to be corroborated with another witness.