A High Court judge has awarded US$180 000 to a woman who was fired from her job after reporting her boss for sexual harassment almost 20 years ago.
Rita Marque Mbatha said she was sexually harassed by former Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) CEO Farai Bwatikona Zizhou between 2002 and 2003 when she worked as his personal assistant.
When she reported the matter, the CZI responded by firing her.
Last week Justice Joseph Mafusire hailed for her tireless determination as she won a lawsuit against Zizhou.
Mbatha sued both Zizhou and CZI for a total of US$500 000. The suit against CZI is pending.
In one incident, Zizhou emailed Mbatha saying he would be visualising her when he is bathing with his wife.
He told her that the sight of his naked wife was “torture and unbearable” to him.
In his ruling, Justice Mafusire noted that it was discouraging that Zizhou never showed any remorse. Said Mafusire:
The matter has had a long turbulent history. The wheels of justice have turned slowly for her.
There can be no denying that. She has been to this court. She strives for closure. Any lesser mortal would probably have given up.
Plainly, Mbatha is no lesser mortal. Her tenacity and fighting spirit have moved mountains. She is still fighting.
… There has never been an apology. One thinks it would have been quite salutary and a measure of atonement for the injured brain.
At the arbitration, Zizhou sought to dismiss his reprehensible conduct as mere jokes. He was callous.
He engineered Mbatha’s dismissal from employment. After the incident and the dismissal, she was not treated with sensitivity.
… the proper level of damages for sexual harassment perpetrated by the defendant from September 2002 to June 2003 is US$180 000… or equivalent thereof in local currency convertible at the interbank rate at the time of payment.
Justice Mafusire ruled that Zizhou should pay interest on the amount and cost of the lawsuit.
Mbatha is now the director of Women’s Comfort Corner Foundation (WCCF) and a board member of the International Alliance of Women (IAW).