Judegment Day At The High Court London

Judegment Day At The High Court London
Mengi v Hermitage: Libel Claim Successfully Defended

Tuesday, 11 August 2009




On Saturday 3rd February 2007, IPP Media, a high profile media organization in Tanzania, the Chief Executive Officer of which is Reginald Mengi, accused British Investor David Stewart Middleton of engaging in serious criminal activity in Tanzania. The Guardian Newspaper, IPP Media’s high profile English Newspaper stated as follows:-

Controversy as Hai Resident is hurt in an assault by armed gang
By Jackson Kimambo
PST, Moshi

A resident of Mili Sita in Hai District, Salim Habib (42) has been admitted to Mawenzi hospital reportedly after being assaulted by Employees of British citizen David Stewart Middleton. The Kilimanjaro Regional Police Commander, Luca Ng’oboko, confirmed that the incident occurred on January 31 and said that investigations into the incident were continuing. He said that the police were still investigating whether handcuffs belonged to the Police Force or the Prisons department. Talking to reporters from his hospital bed, Habibu said that he was still feeling sharp pains to his head, chest and body.

He said that at 5.00pm on the material day he was ambushed by a group of people who clubbed him and slashed his body with machetes. He said that he was at the time in the pasture belonging to his employee, Millie mengi. ‘I ran into the cow shed but the attackers followed me, saying that they were going to fix me’ Habibu said. Habibu claimed that he did not know why he was attacked by those workers. ‘I made a lot of noise as I cried for help. It was in vain’ he said. He said that as he was being assaulted, the British Investor was simply looking on and made no attempt to save my life’. Habibu said that soon after the assault was over, a guard at the investor’s property appeared and handcuffed him. ‘At the police station the police found it difficult to dislodge the chains until they simply opted to cut them off so that I could be sent to hospital’ he said. However, one of Mr. Middleton’s employees, Abel Ng’oja rejected claims that Habibu was assaulted but said that he had trespassed into their property.

When the Guardian contacted the Kilimanjaro Regional Police Commander, he denied claims that Habibu had been slashed with Pangas but had just been assaulted. ‘We are conducting investigations to establish the existence of criminal conduct. It is not right to assault a trespasser’ He said. The RPC said that a few suspects had been arrested in relation to the incident. However, he declined to give their names.
Similar articles were carried in IPP Media's The Nipashe Newspaper (below) and published internationally on the internet and, a public announcement was made over IPP’s Radio Channel, Radio.1.

Wanne wasakwa na polisi Moshi
2007-02-07 09:45:39
Na Jackson Kimambo, PST Moshi

Polisi mkoani Kilimanjaro, imesema inawasaka watuhumiwa wanne waliomshambulia kwa marungu na mapanga na kisha kumfunga pingu Bw. Salim Habibu (42) na kukimbia dhamana.

Kamanda wa Polisi mkoani Kilimanjaro, Bw. Lucas Ng?hoboko aliiambia PST kwa njia ya simu jana kuwa, washtakiwa hao walikuwa chini ya dhamana lakini walipotakiwa kufika mahakamani, hawakufika.

Aliwataja watuhumiwa hao kuwa ni Marcel Kavishe (29), Abel Edward (34), Edward Swai (56), mkazi wa Machame Nkuu na Swalehe Abdallah(29), mkazi wa Majengo, Mji Mpya, mjini Moshi.

Wote ni wafanyakazi wa shamba la Silvadale and Mbono Farm, lililoko Maili Sita wilayani Hai.

Uchunguzi wa PST, umebaini kuwa watuhumiwa hao walitakiwa kufikishwa mahakamani hapo juzi na walifunguliwa kesi ya jinai namba 47 ya mwaka 2007.

Hata hivyo, watuhumiwa hao hawakuweza kufika mahakamani kusomewa shtaka lao.

`Lazima tuwakamate na tuwafikishe mahakamani kwani tuliwaachia kwa dhamana lakini hawakutaka kufika mahakamani kwani Habibu alishambuliwa na watuhumiwa hao Januari 31, mwaka huu,` alisema Kamanda Ng?hoboko.

Akizungumza na waandishi wa habari katika wodi namba tatu ya wagonjwa majeruhi katika hospitali ya mkoa wa Kilimanjaro ya Mawenzi, Bw. Habibu alidai kuwa hali yake kiafya bado ni mbaya, kwani anajisikia maumivu makali sehemu za kichwani, kifuani na sehemu za siri.

Akiwa amelazwa hospitalini hapo kwa siku ya saba sasa, alisema siku ya tukio hilo akiwa katika eneo lake la kazi, saa 5:00 asubuhi, alishangaa kuona kundi la watu ambao walianza kumshambulia kwa marungu, mapanga na kumpiga kwa mateke sehemu za siri.

Alidai kuwa, wakati huo alikuwa katika eneo la mifugo ya tajiri wake, Bi. Millie Mengi na alipoona anazidi kushambuliwa, alikimbilia kwenye zizi la mifugo hiyo lakini bado haikusaidia kwani alifuatwa huko na kushambuliwa zaidi na watu hao.

Hata hivyo, Bw. Habibu alisema yeye hadi kufikia kushambuliwa na watu hao hakutambua kosa lake hali iliyomfanya kuanza kupiga kelele kuomba msaada bila mafanikio.

Alidai kuwa, baada ya kupigwa, alifungwa pingu na kisha kutakiwa kwenda katika kituo cha polisi kilichopo mjini Moshi na kwamba hata alipofika kituo hapo, pingu hizo ziligoma kufunguka kwa zaidi ya saa kadhaa ambapo walilazimika kuzikata ili aweze kwenda hospitalini kutibiwa.

Mr. Middleton states as follows:-

“On the 31st January Mr. Salim Habibu, an employee of Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin Mengi was found on my property having deliberately driven a herd of some forty adult cattle belonging to his wife Mrs Millie Mengi, into a two acre Baby Corn plot grown for export to the U.K. The crop was destroyed. This man had been forbidden from entering my farm on four previous occasions. When approached by my staff the man threatened to kill my Technical Manager Able Ngoja and came at him wielding a Machete. Salim refused to remove the cattle from the field and was arrested by my staff in full compliance with the laws of Tanzania. The police were called five but failed to attend. Inspector Janet from the Moshi Police attended four hours after the first report with Mr. Benjamin Mengi. Salim was handed over to Inspector Janet and was considered to be under arrest in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act 1985. It now appears, that Inspector Janet released Habibu from lawful police custody and he was allowed to go immediately to the District Police Station at Moshi and open a charge against my staff”

Mr. Middleton further states, ‘after handing Habibu over to the police, all of my staff attended Moshi police station to give witness statements in relation to Salim’s conduct on the farm. Having completed their statements, they were then told by Inspector Janet that no report of an offence had been received by them and that the statements they had given were statements in relation to an allegation by Habibu against them. Subsequently, Habibu’s son, was arrested for causing the damage to my crops, a man that was not present at the scene and against who I or my staff have made no charges. Clearly, by this action the lawful arrest of Salim Habibu by my staff is rendered unlawful’.

Speaking on the allegations against his staff Mr. Middleton states, ‘Three days after my staff co-operated with the police by supplying witness statements, they were instructed to attend Moshi Police station. They were told that they had been arrested and charged with offences of Grievous Bodily Harm against Habibu and must attend the police station immediately and be taken directly to Moshi Court of Resident Magistrate. None of my staff have been arrested, charged or cautioned in relation to any criminal offence. No warrant of arrest was issued for the arrests of any of my staff. They did therefore have a right to liberty’.

IPP Media’s the Nipahse Newspaper, carried a further article on 7th February stating reports from the RPC in Moshi that four of Mr. Middleton’s staff had been arrested, charged and bonded to go before the magistrates court to answer charges and that they had now absconded. The article further states that the RPC will make every effort to secure their arrest. Mr. Middleton states, ‘this does not reflect the realities of this incident’.

Commenting on IPP media’s publications Mr. Middleton states ‘ IPP Media continually prints damnatory material against me accusing me of criminal activities in Tanzania. It is always unsubstantiated and, couched in a language of unqualified accusation of guilt with no right of reply given. If Tanzania wishes to condone this type of journalism then it is their loss and says more about IPP Media than it does about me. There is an old and wise saying, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’.

Few people who read the newspapers would be unaware of the media attacks since November 2005 against British investor Mr. Stewart Middleton by high profile English and Swahili newspapers owned by IPP Media. Readers are referred particularly but not exclusively to the following newspaper articles:- The Guardian 23/11/2005, The Nipashe 3/1/2006, The Guardian 19/1/2006, The Mwananchi 22/11/2005, The Nipashe 22/11/2005, The Guardian, 23/11/2005, The Nipashe, 2/2/2006, The Alhamisi 19/1/2006 and the Guardian 19/1/ 2006.

All of the articles accuse Mr. Middleton of acts of dishonesty and theft and of breach of court orders in particular, his attempts to defraud Moshi Hotelier Benjamin Mengi, Reginald Mengi's brother. What the articles have never stated is that Mr. Middleton or his staff has never been tried for any crime in Tanzania.

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