High court judge, Justice Abedinico Tafa, has postponed the case to August 18, 2009 in which Oteng Wadipudi, the principal of Kgabophuti Primary School in Moshupa, is being sued by his junior female teacher for publicly declaring his junior’s HIV status.
The matter could not be heard on Thursday 12th as initially planned because the complainant had been hospitalized.
According to the particulars of the case as presented before court, Wadipodi, on the 18th September 2007, at the stated primary school, uttered words which impinged on the integrity and dignity of the teacher.
‘……..if it were anyone here saying that, I would understand this overly scared thing. The illness is clearly manifest in your face. It is not hidden.” The words are reported to have been uttered by Wadipodi in front of other members of staff.
The head teacher is alleged to have further insinuated that more could be said and that ‘books can be written’ about the complainant adding that she behaved in a manner which reflected the way she was brought up.
Uyapo Ndadi, the attorney representing the female teacher said, “These statements were understood by addressees and calculated to mean that my client was not behaving because she is suffering from a medical condition, in particular HIV, and as a result a menace to the teaching community.”
It was further pointed out in the applicant’s representation that Wadipodi’s defamatory utterances had the effect of sending the message that she got infected because she was promiscuous.
This is especially so in light of the prevailing stigma and discrimination attached to this medical condition.
Against this background, the teacher’s attorney has argued that she has suffered damages to her reputation, “self esteem and dignity in the tune of P200 000,” as a result of an infringement of her right to privacy.
In defence of Wadipodi, Attorneys Longwane Mmekwa Attorneys, submitted that the words were justified in that they were uttered in response to “the plaintiff’s abusive words”.
In addition, the defence sought to shoot down his junior’s demand for payment arguing that there was no intent to violate her privacy.
To this end the defendant further prayed to the court to dismiss the claim for damages in the sum of P 200 000, as well as the costs of the suit.
One Human Rights Activist, who preferred anonymity, told the Sunday Standard, ‘this is a very crucial case in that the outcome should send the message as to what is the acceptable attitudes expected of those who relate with people living with HIV and AIDS”.