A ground-breaking judgment from the high court in Zimbabwe has held that a woman, sexually harassed at work, is entitled to damages. It is understood to be the first time that such an order has been made in Zimbabwe. The decision comes after the woman experienced sexual harassment by her employer in 2002/3. According to evidence, her whole life changed as a result of the harassment: she lost her job, her marriage broke up and her personality has changed dramatically.
In a judgment that strikes a blow for women’s equality in the face of strong cultural practices, the Ugandan high court has ordered that a widow may decide where her deceased husband may be buried. This despite the wishes of the man’s family, who wanted him laid in an ancestral burial ground and who wanted the woman to be barred from in any way ‘interfering’ with the burial. Before making its decision, the court asked for expert witnesses to provide evidence about the burial traditions of the Ndiga clan. And, in its conclusion, the court urged that ordinary members of the public should be encouraged to adopt a culture of writing wills indicating their preferences about property distribution and burial preferences. The judge said this would reduce the number of cases handling burial dispute matters, and would promote peaceful relations between families.
Botswana’s apex court has upheld a high court decision decriminalising gay sex. And the country’s attorney general has issued a special media release on the subject, saying that Botswana has an impressive post-independence record of observing human rights and the rule of law. Against this background, the government will ensure the new decision in the court of appeal’s judgment is implemented.
Decisions by a magistrate based at the Oshakati Regional Court in Namibia have led to strong community protest and concern by anti-rape activists who oppose sentences the judicial officer has passed in rape cases. They are also against him being asked to sentence a rapist in a case where he (the magistrate) had originally acquitted the accused. Now, following the state’s successful appeal against that acquittal, the magistrate must sentence the man whom he was originally sure was not guilty. Protesters, however, say the magistrate should have nothing more to do with the case as he will not bring an open mind to the matter.
The controversial report of an official inquiry into drug trafficking in Mauritius continues to cause waves in that state’s upper echelons. When it appeared in 2018, the report led to the resignation of the minister for gender equality as well as the deputy speaker in the national assembly. Both said they would contest the report, particularly its suggestion that they were implicated in drug scandals. The report went even wider in its reach, however: as well as linking politicians to drug traffickers, it suggested certain police officers and lawyers were involved as well, and recommended further inquiries in relation to them. Now the supreme court of Mauritius has decided an application arising from the report, brought by a prominent member of the legal profession who objected to the several pages dealing with allegations against him. What makes the case even more noteworthy is that the lawyer is Abdool Raouf Gulbul, whose wife, Rehana Bibi Mungly-Gulbul, has just been appointed Chief Justice of Mauritius. One of the allegations against Gulbul in the report was that during the 2014 elections, when he stood unsuccessfully as a candidate, he had used his wife’s phone to make calls that he did not want recorded. Another is that, given the income of the couple at the time, they could not have afforded to buy the properties they own.