By DELPHINE ZULU –
THE Lusaka High Court has ordered Muvi Television to pay a Lusaka journalist K50,000 for accusing him of defiling a 15-year-old girl.
Francis Maingaila was accused of having sexually abused a 15-year-old girl who had gone to seek assistance at Muvi Television and landed in his custody.
Maingaila had sued Muvi for aggravated damages for libel and special damages for mental distress, anxiety, inconvenience and discomfort.
Judge Judy Mulongoti ordered the private television station to compensate Maingaila with K40,000 aggravated damages and K10,000 special damages for mental distress and anxiety.
She said in her judgment during the week that Maingaila was accused of a serious offence which would have landed him in prison for a minimum of 15 years or more but was lucky because he was acquitted on lack of evidence.
Ms Justice Mulongoti said Maingaila had proved his case against MUVI on a balance of possibilities in his legal suit for libel against the respondent.
Muvi, through its servants or agents and others, with intent to defame conspired to falsely circulate and broadcast a malicious and incriminating rumour or publication that he had defiled an underage girl in 2009.
Muvi caused Maingaila’s arrest and was tried by the magistrate’s court that, however, acquitted him.
Muvi Television had filed a defence, saying there were reasonable grounds upon which to believe that Maingaila had sexually abused the girl.
The media institution said the words complained of, were published in the bona fide discharge of its duty and words were fair and bona fide comment in the circumstances that defilement of underage persons has aroused public concern and interest in the country.