A RECENT Twitter post on one of the country’s leading musician account, Mukudzeyi Mukombe, popularly known as Jah Prayzah, has irked local property developers, West Properties Company (Pvt) Ltd and Pokugara Properties (Pvt) Ltd, after a Harare woman and an online publication editor allegedly posted defamatory statements following the purchasing of a piece of land by the musician.
Through their lawyers Chinawa Law Chambers, West Properties Company (Pvt) Ltd and Pokugara Properties (Pvt) Ltd issued summons against one Dorothy Wakeling of Harare Wetlands Trust and Harry Davies, the editor of Harare News demanding US$200 000 as defamation compensation and for loss of the firms’ business.
“The plaintiff’s (West Properties Company (Pvt) Ltd and Pokugara Properties (Pvt) Ltd) business reputation is being tarnished by this tweet. The impact of the tweet affects the plaintiff’s ability to get purchasers of stands in the said immovable property in that plaintiffs are now perceived as selling land obtained corruptly or unlawfully,” the lawyers said.
In their combined declaration, the two firms, cited as applicants in the matter, said on September 7, 2020 Jah Prayzah, celebrated the purchasing of his piece of land in one of the firm’s properties by posting a picture of himself and the representatives of the company on his Twitter account.
According to the property developers, Jah Prayzah’s account has more than 167 100 followers and at the time of filling the summons, his celebratory tweet had been retweeted by 152 people, including a retweet by one Morgan Heritage, who has a singular following of more than 105 300 people.
“The said tweet has a potential of having reached more than I million people inclusive of those who reacted to it and those who did not react to it.
“In the same tweet, the defendant (Wakeling) commented that the plaintiff’s client was building a house on wetland and thereby destroying the wetlands in Borrowdale,” the lawyers said referring to Wakeling’s comments.
“This was said notwithstanding the fact that the defendant is aware of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from Environmental Management Agency (Ema) which gave the plaintiff the authority to proceed with building houses.”
The lawyers further said the words in the context of the tweet are wrongful, misleading and defamatory to their clients in that they were intended to and were understood by the readers of the tweet to mean that the property developers “are insensitive, inconsiderate and corrupt in their dealings” adding this can also be seen by the interaction/comments to the tweet by other tweeters.
“The defendant’s tweet was published to her following and also to Jah Prayzah’s following with the result that anyone who reads the said Jah Prayzah’s tweet will come across this tweet. As a result of this defamation, the plaintiff’s reputation has been damaged and has suffered damages in the amount of US$100 000. Despite demand, the defendant has failed to settle the claim for damages, wherefore the plaintiffs pray for judgment against the defendant,” the lawyers said.
The lawyers also said in respect of Davies, he commented that their clients “obtained the property through corrupt means”.
“The defendant’s (Davies) tweet was published to his following of 1 542 plus eight tweets by people with a combined following of 12 988. This is in addition to figures stated in paragraphs five and six above since everyone who comes across the said tweet by Jah Prayzah is also exposed to the defamatory comments made by the defendant.”
The matters are pending and Wakeling and Davies are yet to respond to the lawsuits.