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Court chops spoiled water victims’ list

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By Wezzie Gausi:

The High Court sitting in Lilongwe has ordered that only the original list of victims of the Area 18A water contamination should be assessed for possible compensation, striking off some names that were added to the list after commencement of the matter, The Daily Times has learnt.

In 2017, Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is alleged to have supplied contaminated water to residents of Area 18A after the board’s supply pipes burst near a broken underground sewer system.

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Residents sued LWB, Malawi Housing Corporation and Lilongwe City Council for their respective roles in the issues but, in August 2020, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda removed LWB from the case.

In the latest development, Assistant Registrar Anthony Kapaswiche has ruled, in a court order dated July 5 2021, that a party cannot be added to a case without making proper application to the court.

The order comes after, on June 4 2021, Malawi Housing Corporation raised preliminary objections to the list that was brought for assessment, claiming more people were added to it.

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Initially, 287 names were included in the original summons but reports indicate that 1,300 names have been submitted for assessment.

“Having already served the summons to the defendants, the claimants cannot add other claimants to the case without an application for the same being made before the court,” the order reads.

Kapaswiche has also ruled against the practice of using families to identify claimants as well as that of listing a mere house number.

“This court, therefore, holds that all the names which were not listed during the time of commencement of the present matter be struck off from the assessment list as they are not parties to the present case,” the order reads.

A representative of the complainants, Leonard Phiri, said each individual was requested to write statements on the matter.

“We did what the court said but the defendant said the number of names increased. It is true that the number of names increased. The first 287 names were of households while 1,300 are names of the individuals that were affected,” Phiri said.

Area 18A residents are demanding K4 million each as compensation for being supplied with unhygienic water.

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