Court name
High Court of Tanzania

Elizabeth Saiwa vs Yohana Mpahi () [1985] TZHC 41 (03 December 1985);

Law report citations
1984 TLR 56 (TZHC)
Media neutral citation
[1985] TZHC 41

Lugakingira, J.: The appellant was married to the respondent's brother for twenty years. They had   E no child but the husband had children from another union. In January 1984 the husband died in circumstances evoking local suspicion and the appellant was expelled from the village. She then sued the respondent, the administrator of the deceased's estates, for her share in the property acquired during the marriage.
  F From the beginning the respondent's defence has been that he did not expel the appellant, but the village did. True; the appellant's banishment was preceded by two villagers' meetings, but the argument has no merit since the respondent was a party to, and the moving spirit in, the illegal   G enterprise. Besides, the right of a childless widow to a share in assets of the marriage is not contingent upon any considerations - superstitious considerations least of all - but is one secured by statute (see para. 77 of the Customary Law Declaration Order, G.N. No. 279/63).
The problem of the lower courts, the problem I also face, is that there was no evidence of the   H existence, nature and quantity of the assets acquired during the marriage. It seems that the appellant relied on the inventory annexed to her pleadings, but, unfortunately, pleadings are not evidence. In his own evidence the respondent claimed that the deceased was survived by four head of cattle and   I that these comprised his entire estates. He certainly was not believed by the trial court which awarded the appellant nine head of cattle,

thirteen goats, one sheep and 1,500/- for household items as prayed. In the absence of evidence,  A however, the District Court reduced this to four head of cattle and 1,500/- as reasonable gratuity for a marriage that lasted 20 years. The present appeal challenges that award.
It is difficult to fault the approach of the District Court. In the absence of evidence on the assets, it is  B impossible to satisfy the requirements of para 77 aforesaid. The burden was on the appellant to adduce that evidence and its absence meant a corresponding weakness in her case. It was then entirely to the discretion of the Court to decide what payment was reasonable in the circumstances  C of the case. Bearing in mind that the marriage lasted 20 years and considering the appellant's expulsion as a superstitious aberration, I think four head of cattle and 1,500/= satisfied the justice of the case. The appellant will have that or 5, 500/- in cash.
The appeal is therefore dismissed but there will be no order as to costs. D
Appeal dismissed.