The High Court has ordered OK Zimbabwe (OK) to pay US$51 000 as compensation to a family whose child’s legs were injured after a grocery shelf in one of its Harare supermarkets collapsed on her in 2015.
Justice Ephraim Tagu ordered the company to compensate the minor who sustained permanent disabilities following the unfortunate incident, through her father, Tizai Chiswanda who sought legal recourse after OK’s senior staffers ignored his plea.
It emerged that the shelf in question had long malfunctioned and was being supported by a farm brick at the time it collapsed.
OK had tried to shift the blame on the father, stating that he did not monitor his child when they were in the shop.
The retailer had argued that the little girl was fascinated by some balls which were on display and tried to climb up the shelf, which resulted in it collapsing.
But the father insisted that the shelves were not serviced and were corroded.
Another shopper who testified also said it was impossible for the girl to climb the shelf because it had a small wire mesh.
The girl was wearing shoes that could not fit into the wire mesh holes.
Chiswanda told the court that:
- i). he rushed to check what was happening after hearing his daughter crying.
- ii). he found the girl under the shelf, but no shop assistant came to the scene.
- iii). he was helped by three shoppers to lift the shelf up and retrieve his daughter, who was crying in pain.
- iv). e rushed the girl to the hospital using his own vehicle and she was admitted.
- v). he went back to the supermarket and was attended to by two men who introduced themselves as section managers.
Having failed to get an explanation, he proceeded to make a police report at Rhodesville Police Station.
Chiswanda then claimed special damages for medical expenses, disposable diapers, transport costs, pain and suffering, permanent disability, disfigurement, loss of amenities of life, future medical and transport costs all totalling US$51 982,93.
Justice Tagu found OK guilty of negligence and the leading retail chain to pay the compensation in US dollars, plus interest on the amount at the prescribed rate from April 1 2015 to date of full payment as well as costs of suit.