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Reuben Mwanza
"I am very disappointed"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 13 December, 2000, 14:49 GMT
Beer lizard millions disappear

Lizard beer not so costly for Zambian Breweries
By Anthony Kunda in Lusaka

A Zambian barman, who became a rich man after finding a dead lizard floating in a bottle of his favourite beer, has seen his fortune evaporate away.

At the start of the year Reuben Mwanza was awarded millions of kwacha in damages by the High Court in Zambia after sueing beer manufacturer Zambian Breweries.

But Zambian Breweries appealed to the Supreme Court and the damages awarded to him have been slashed.

And the decision is likely to prove a blow to the hopes of the many Zambians who have been searching for "lizard millions" in their bottled drinks or soups since the case.

Excessive awards

Chief Justice Matthew Ngulube, sitting with two other judges, said the award, worth about $18,000 at the time, granted by a high court judge was excessive.

And he reduced it to a paltry $400.

Zambians will be less hopeful of finding nasty things in their food and drink

The Supreme Court said that Mwanza had failed to prove that Zambian Breweries had been negligent, or breached its duty of care to its customers in manufacturing its product.

In addition, there was no medical report to show that he had suffered nausea, or an illness as a consequence of drinking the Mosi lager beer with a lizard floating in it.

According to the Supreme Court's rules on such cases, a complainant can only be awarded substantial damages upon proof of a medical report indicating actual damage suffered.

Cockroach blow

Mwanza is not the first to lose millions of kwacha awarded as damages for strange objects found in drinks or soups.

Four months ago, a Lusaka magistrate named Astridah Chulu had about $25,000 in damages awarded by the high court also slashed to $400.

She had sued the management of a restaurant where she was served a plate of soup containing a dead cockroach.

The restaurant appealed arguing that the award was too high and the Supreme Court ruled that the dameages awarded "flew overboard".

Although Magistrate Chulu had complained of nausea at the time, she spat out the cockroach together with the soup and the Supreme Court held that there had been no medical report to support her ill health claim.

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