Opinion: Biti maybe “damaged some calm” but didn’t assault anyone

This delict is committed when a person unlawfully and intentionally applies force to the person of another or has threatened to do so in a manner that inspires a reasonable fear of immediate danger in the mind of the person threatened” (Professor G. Feltoe – ‘ A Guide To The Zimbabwean Law Of Delict, 2018).

Tendai Biti on the 30th November 2020 called out Tatiana Aleshina at Harare Magistrate Court. Where he called her: “You Tatiana you are stupid, very stupid, stupid. Stupid idiot”. Which by all definitions shouldn’t be an offence or deemed as an criminal act. It was an act of foolishness from Tendai Biti and he should apologize maybe. However, to be charged with assault over this is just ridiculous.

What is even more striking that uttering these words was enough to get Aleshina hospitalized. That he pointed fingers and shouted out these words. He didn’t touch her or act with vile force. He was maybe angry and was out of bounds with his emotions, as he uttered those words. Still, that is not an assault by definition.

If you feel threatened by these sort of words. Then you shouldn’t even work in a Court or be part of the Justice system. It will get much worse from here. The man showed his frustration and only retorted in a manner, which he should apologize for, but not be charged with anything.

To call a person “stupid” and a “idiot” shouldn’t be a criminal offence. Unless, the authorities are thin-skinned and lack moral judgement. Because, if this is deemed enough to do so. Then, everyone in the nation better be prepared for assault charges. Every kid and every child, heck every teen and every partner have uttered these words at one point. Where you have called your friend “stupid” or your colleague an “idiot”. Because, at the heat of the moment you have realized that they acted “dumb”. Therefore, charging him for calling Tatiana that is using a school-yard argument in court.

He didn’t put her life in danger, he didn’t touch her or threaten her. Tendai might be loud in the heat of the moment, but that doesn’t justify the charges against him. Biti should just say “sorry” and Tatiana should move-on. Unless, she is always afraid and nobody has ever stroke a high note around her. Which I doubt, as a Chief Operation Manager in a Property Firm. She must have heard much more derogatory language from contractors, than what Biti said on the 30th November.

Yes, she could be shaken and humiliated. That is all natural, as you would stumble on the humble and wouldn’t expect to be called out in the setting of a Court. However, that doesn’t say that Biti actually assaulted her. Neither, was these words intimidating. It was more a quick slur and bad manners.

If this is deemed as an assault. Then it takes a school-yard argument to the courts. There will be much more cases and the courts should be filled with kids, youths and managers calling people out. Who hasn’t called people stupid and showed some bad manners?

I am sure most of the public has done so at one point. Unless, your a holy saint, the Pope or someone holier than thou. Alas, if Tendai Biti … is charged and serving time over this. Then there should be plenty of more similar cases. Because, the Courts should start answering to pleas of civilians everywhere who has called people “stupid” since that is enough to get charged with “assault”. Peace.

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