Gai Ipenzule  vs Sumi Magoye [1985] TZHC 14 (25 May 1985)


Mwalusanya, J.: The appellant Gai d/o Ipensule was successfully sued at Nyambiti Primary Court by the respondent Sumi d/o Magoye in a suit for a claim of damages for adultery.  The respondent was awarded ten head of cattle as damages.  The appellant's appeal to the District Court of Kwimba did not bear fruit and hence this current appeal. H
The appellant in her memo of appeal has vigorously protested against the decision of the trial court arguing that it was against the weight of evidence.  She said that there was no direct evidence of adultery adduced except hearsay evidence.  She further boldly asserts I that even the hearsay evidence from the respondent's husband was admitted to prove the

plaintiff's case.  In short appellant contends that the decision of the trial court was based A on nebulous inferences if not speculation.
Admittedly the way the suit was proved at the trial was novel and unusual but by no means despicable.  What happened was that the respondent's husband Mafayo s/o Shimiji was caught in adultery with the appellant.  That was when the adulterers were at B Salawi village for a visit.  The appellant's husband Kaswahili s/o Lutoja sent them to the ten cell leader of Salawi village for redress.  The respondent's husband admitted adultery and was condemned to pay ten heads of cattle which he agreed to pay. C
When the respondent's husband returned home at Chanela village, his wife got wind of the embarrassing news.  She also went to claim damages at the ten cell leader from the appellant.  Appellant admitted adultery but prayed for the appearance of respondent's husband at the sitting.  The matter was referred to court.  At the trial appellant admitted D adultery but again questioned whether it was proper to be condemned in the absence of the respondent's husband in court.  The trial court held that it was quite proper to proceed even if respondent's husband was absent.
Like the first appellate court I am unable to accede to the argument of the appellant E about absence of direct evidence.  Whether adultery has been proved is purely a question of fact.  It is not the law as suggested by the appellant that direct evidence of persons caught in flagrante delicto is the only admissible evidence to prove adultery.  Very rarely is adultery proved by direct evidence; the common practice is that adultery is F proved by circumstantial evidence.  However in this particular case, appellant herself admitted adultery.  Now what more else would you need?  In law nothing more was required to prove the case for the plaintiff.  There was no need to have the respondent's husband called when the appellant admitted the act of adultery.  There can be no doubt therefore that this appeal is devoid of merit. G
As regards quantum of damages I was initially of the view that ten head of cattle was too much and rather on the high side.  I thought it offended s. 74(1) of the Law of Marriage Act No. 5 of 1971 which prohibits the award of punitive or exemplary damages.  But s. H 74(2) of the same law states that in assessing damages  for adultery, the court shall have regard to any relevant custom of the community to which the parties belong.  In this case both parties are Sukuma by tribe.  The trial court which sat with Sukuma assessors appears to be of the view that ten heads of cattle is the appropriate quantum of damages I for adultery in this part of the country.  Even respondent's husband was condemned to pay the same amount by the ten cell leader of Salawi village. So the

figure arrived at appears to be appropriate and in harmony with Sukuma customary law. A
Be that as it may, I dismiss this appeal with costs.
B Appeal dismissed.


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