Q&A – 20 January 2014

Cockroach in food

I went to a top notch restaurant that everyone believes has the cleanest kitchen in Tanzania. Whether you believe it or not, I ate a cockroach unknowingly. It came out the next day when I went to the toilet and want to sue the restaurant owner. How do I proceed?
TE, Dar

It is hard for us to believe that a cockroach that you ate came out when you went to the toilet the next day. From the biology that we know, it is quite apparent that a cockroach you eat would be digested by your digestive system. Our research shows it is virtually impossible for it to have been excreted the next day unless it was made of silver. We also find it hard to believe how you would know that you excreted a cockroach unless you were monitoring your stool, which very few people would normally do.

All in all, should your ingestion of a cockroach be true, you do have both a contractual and tortious claim against the restaurant. If the restaurant is a limited liability company, than it is the company that you would sue, not the owner. If the restaurant is a sole proprietorship, you can sue the owner him/herself.

Finally one challenge you have is proving that you ingested a cockroach. How would you go about proving that the cockroach you seemingly excreted was from the restaurant you visited?

Your lawyers can provide more guidance.

Investing in other countries

I am a Tanzanian businessman intending to invest in other African countries. My accountant says that this is restricted because of some tax regulations. Is that true?
UG, Dar

There are no tax laws or regulations that we are aware of that restrict you from investing your money in other countries. You might want to get your accountant to provide you with the exact regulation he or she is referring to.

Perhaps what your accountant is pointing out is that you can invest in other countries but these must be funds that are declared to TRA here in Tanzania. For example if you are investing large amounts in other countries as equity, and since you are Tanzanian, these amounts should have been legitimately obtained in Tanzania or elsewhere but declared to TRA.

The Compliance levels of many businesses in Tanzania is poor and maybe your accountant is worried that you will end up in trouble with TRA who can inquire on where you got such funds from to invest in other countries when you are not declaring all your income in Tanzania.

If your accountant’s thinking is as per the above, you need to review your investment decision outside Tanzania.

Junior minister with police escort

I was stopped at night by police along Nyerere Road as a big shot was passing the road. It took atleast 10 minutes for the big shot to pass by in which time one man broke my back door window and stole my bag which contained a laptop and money. I called for help but it was too late. I decided to approach the police officer, a very friendly lady, to inquire why we were stopped for so long. She was equally frustrated and spilled the beans saying that the so called big shot was not as big as he thought and that he was merely a deputy minister who should not be getting any such escorts. She also said that this was not the first time that her and fellow police officers were standing on the streets at night servicing the deputy minister. Can I sue the deputy minister? Does the deputy minister have immunity?
KG, Dar

If the facts above are true, and you can prove them, you have all the right to sue the deputy minister. In fact deputy ministers are not eligible to such police escorts unless there are obvious reasons for being escorted. Before you institute a suit, do make sure that you have gathered enough evidence. For example the police officer could be a key witness but she is very unlikely to cooperate. For actions such as this, the deputy minister has no immunity. Lawsuits such as these will send the right signal to people who abuse their office.

Our research shows that government officials and ministers have been sued in other countries for misusing motorvehicles, insurance, government boats and even government houses. Others have gotten into trouble for misusing travel allowances for leisure and even forging business class tickets whilst travelling economy class.
We recommend your lawyer study your case and guide you.

Counselling someone to commit crime

Is a person who is counselling someone to commit a crime but does not commit the crime himself guilty of an offence? I know someone who teaches people how to cut open safes that are stolen- is that legal?
LK, Dar

Section 22 of the Penal Code states clearly that when an offence is committed, each of the following persons is deemed to have taken part in committing the offence and to be guilty of the offence, and may be charged with actually committing it, that is to say (a) every person who actually does the act or makes the omission which constitutes the offence; (b) every person who does or omits to do any act for; the purpose of enabling or aiding another person, to commit the offence: (c) every person who aids or abets another person in committing the offence; (d) any person who counsels or procures any other person to commit the offence.

In the last mentioned case he may be charged either with committing the offence or with counselling or procuring its commission. A conviction of counselling or procuring the commission of an offence entails the same consequences in all respects as a conviction of committing the offence.

From the above you can see that counselling a commission of an offence has consequences similar to committing the offence.