Q&A – 20 March 2023

Chain letter causing panic

I have been receiving a chain letter on Whatsapp that states I need to forward this to five people and contribute TZS 10,000 for each time I forward it. This chain letter states that if I do not forward, then I will be hit with bad luck, and if I do, I will be very lucky. I have a very sick child and initially forwarded the letter believing that my child was healing but that does not seem to be the case. I am really scared as I keep on receiving the letter and have lost quite a bit of my savings in this scheme. Please guide me.
HF, Dar

Chain letters are hoaxes that have existed for hundreds of years. As hoaxes go, it isn’t a bad way to get someone’s attention. Copies of the letter have in some instances survived generations, proof that people have always had an innate curiosity – and superstition – about chain letters. In the decades that followed, hundreds of thousands of people have received and forwarded letters that promise charity, prosperity, or religious enlightenment. Many letters state that if you don’t, you will be hit with bad luck or even death.

In your case we don’t see anything different. The original sender and/or recipient of the electronic unsolicited chain letter is committing an offence and you can report them to the police. In fact, the Penal Code has a specific section on chain letters. We also recommend you ignore these letters and stop sending any further funds, and focus on other methods for the well being of your sick child.

Father dead, properties being misused

My father passed away few weeks ago without leaving behind a Will. Since I am the first born and our mother predeceased my father, we agreed with my young brothers and sisters that I should apply for a letter of administration of his estate. Before the grant of the letter of administration, a woman appeared from the blue, who has challenged my application claiming she was also a wife of my father. My father’s business partners are also behaving weirdly and not disclosing details of certain transactions. The Court case will take long. What can we do at this juncture from stopping this pilferage.
BB, Dar

The letter of administrations you have applied for will not be granted until the application made by this alleged wife of the deceased is disposed of. You have correctly pointed out that this will take time and time being of essence, you need to stop this pilferage and misuse of assets.

Our law allows granting of a letter of administration with limited powers. Such a temporary letter of administration will empower the administrator with all the rights and powers of the general administrator except for the powers of distributing the estate. In law this is referred to as grant of letters of administration pendent lite. We recommend that you immediately apply for this letter of administration to preserve your late father’s estates whilst you are fighting it out in Court. This application should be filed under certificate of urgency for it to get a quick hearing date.

Law doesn’t name Minister

If there is a law that refers to the Minister, how do I know which Minister is being referred to? Can there be reference to two Ministers in one law?
UY, Tabora

The Interpretation of Laws Act clarifies this that reference in a written law to the Minister shall be construed: (a)  in the case of a reference in an Act, as a reference to the Minister to whom the administration of the Act, or the provisions of the Act, in which or in respect of which the term is used, is for the time being committed by the President; (b)  in the case of a reference in subsidiary legislation, as a reference to the Minister to whom the administration of the Act, or provision of the Act, under which the subsidiary legislation is made, is for the time being committed by the President.

The thumb rule is that the Minister who administers the Act would be the one referred to. For example, if the law is in relation to mineral resources, then any reference to Minister would refer to the Minister for Mining. Similarly, if there is a tax law, such a reference would refer to the Minister for Finance and Planning.

On whether there could be two Ministers administering the same law, it is very unlikely, but we would need to look at the law and the interpretations section before concluding.

Prostitution and human trafficking

I am quite concerned about my neighbour who seems to bring in ladies from all across East Africa and the far east and keeps them in his house. I see men come in and out all the time. I bumped into one of the ladies at the kiosk where she was not supposed to visit but could do so as the owner was away. She told me that the owner promised jobs to them only to end up being exploited in Dar. Is this not an offence?
YU, Dar

Section 4 of the Anti Trafficking in Person Act 2008 states that a person commits an offence of trafficking in person if that person recruits, transports, transfers, harbours, provides or receives a person by means, including those done under the pretext of domestic overseas employment, training or apprenticeship, for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage.

The description you provided quite clearly falls under the above and this is a serious offence that can fetch the owner upto 20 years imprisonment or a fine or both.