Q&A – 9 April 2012

Power of attorney in divorce

I am a Tanzanian married woman with two children. Due to my husband’s infidelity our marriage has now become unbearable. Just as he will not accept sharing me with someone,I cannot accept sharing him with someone as it is not what marriage is about. To add to the trouble my husband has a child with this woman. Do I have any right on this child? I have also petitioned in Court for divorce through a power of attorney which authorizes my young sister in Dar to do the needful in order to obtain the divorce. The divorce is being contested by my husband and the trial magistrate has refused to proceed with the case demanding that I appear in person. Is this fair? Can the holder of the power of attorney not get me the divorce?
PP, Dar

We are unsure what you mean if you have a right on the child. Biologically you are not the mother. The commonality here is that of your husband, as husband to you and father to the child. You have no other connection whatsoever and hence you can have no right over the child. The child’s mother is the other woman in your husband’s life.

We now address the divorce issue. From the above we are unsure what facts your petition contains as grounds for divorce. We suspect that the facts for and against the petition require one to appear and testify. It is commonly known that the attorney of the petitioneris not an incompetent witness and can appear in Court on behalf of the party and do the acts as specified in the power of attorney.
The holder of the power of attorney can appear inCourt as a witness in respect of facts which are in his or her knowledge. He or shecannot dispose in respect of facts which are not in his or her knowledge and knowledge of which has been delivered by him from the principal without testifying the facts himself. It seems that the trial magistrate believes that there are involved in your case facts which are within your knowledge which cannot be disposed by your attorney and hence the requirement that you appear personally in Court. We do not think it is unfair and in the interest of settling this quickly, you may want to consider appearing.

Theft by finding

My mother has been charged and convicted of the offence of stealing a mobile phone. She was ordered by the District Magistrate to serve a term of 24 months in jail despite herdefence that she had received the said phone from our 13 year old brother who had found the phone somewhere. Are there chances of success on appeal? Please advise us. We are in trouble, as we solely depend onour mother for our needs as our father died six years ago.
AH, Dar

Theft is the offence of taking and appropriation of property without the owner’s consent. To appropriate what has been accidently dropped is also theft. This depends on the circumstances and facts of a particular case. Based on the facts you have given us itis hard for us to be able to judge on the likelihood of success of the appeal. For example, we do not know the nature of evidence on record forming basis of her conviction and any efforts made by your mother to find the mobile phone order. You have not told us where the phone was found and why it was brought home.

The fact that your mother is the sole bread earner for the family is a mitigating factor that can be taken into consideration during sentencing; that alone cannot enable her to escape the consequences of a merited conviction.

We recommend you proceed to file your appeal and do so within the statutory period. Your attorneys can guide you further

Theft on my mobile

I got a message from a cell number informing me that I had won a lottery of Tsh 50M and that I should send a certain message to a particular number. I was quite excited and proceeded to do as instructed. I then got another message to reload my phone with Tsh 100,000 as my contribution towards my award and I sent another message to the same number. It turned out that the two messages I sent were for the transfer of credit and I lost quite a bit of money. The phone number I transferred credit to is now constantly switched off. What should I do? Can the mobile company replace the credit as it was their network that caused this incident?
EH, Arusha

There is a saying that says there is no free lunch. There is always a catch somewhere and you seem to have been caught in this one. This is a sham that is spreading fast in the marketplace. To put it simply, your money has been stolen by a professional who uses the network of your mobile operator to steal.

Stealing is a criminal offence and we suggest that you report this to the police. It will unlikely bring your money back but will at the very least have an open file at the police that you can refer to at any time.

As for the replacement of your money, no mobile operator will do that simply because it will open a can of worms for the operator. The mobile operator will also argue that you were entirely reckless in reloading credit and transferring it for the second time, expecting to get Tsh 50M. How can you win a lottery if you have not bought a ticket? It beats common sense for a lottery to have a contribution towards the prize. These are the questions that will be put to you in the event you decide to take your mobile operator to task. We recommend you address these with your attorneys prior to instituting any suit against the mobile operator.