By Spy Uganda
Last week court delivered ruling on a defamation case filed by the former Ethics and Integrity Minister, Miria Matembe, against the Uganda Media Centre Director, Ofwono Opondo and NBS television and its former talk show host Charles Odongotho.
In her suit, Matembe accused the above mentioned parties of defaming her by uttering claims that her husband Nekemia Matembe, left her and opted to sleep with housemaids.
Matembe told court that on July 27, 2017, Opondo appeared together with Matembe, Dr. Kizza Besigye, Nobert Mao, and Kahinda Otafiire on NBS TV’s political show The Frontline to discuss the then-proposed amendment to the presidential age limit.
She says during the course of the debate, she said that she had seen on TV Opondo enjoying cows for wealth creation instead of giving hem to the needy. In response, Opondo said, “I am sure Hon. Matembe has suffered similar things. They said her husband left her and slept with housemaids …. I hope that is correct … I am saying I hope that was correct….I don’t fear that … I hope that was right as well.”
The above didn’t go well with Matembe who then tasked Odongotho who was the moderator of the program to order Opondo to withdraw the statements which he did but Opondo declined.
It’s from the above background that Matembe run to Court to seek justice, a move that last week turned negative on her side.
Court trashed her case after Opondo denied that his statements were defamatory in nature. He also said his words had been taken out of context to appear as though they were intended to injure Matembe’s reputation.
Also, NBS and Odongotho denied that Opondo’s statements were made to defame the Matembe. They also denied that there was any negligence on their part when they aired the said defamatory statements.
After the above defenses, High Court Judge Phillip Odoki ruled in favor of the respondents stating that the statements complained about do not have any defamatory imputation.
He ruled, “If the actual words complained of as being defamatory are not set out in the plaint, the plaint would be defective. … It cannot be said that the plaintiffs suffered as a result of those statements. Issue 8 is therefore resolved in the negative.”
”The quotation misses out on the relevant part of the statement of the 1st defendant wherein he stated that because the 2nd plaintiff based on rumors from the media, he also said what the media had said about her, which is vital in determining whether the utterances were defamatory of the plaintiffs.”
The statement that the 2nd defendant had suffered from wrong reporting about her and her husband does not, in my view, carry any defamatory imputation. Issue 2 is therefore resolved in the negative,” the ruling reads in part.
On whether there was negligence on the part of NBS and Odongotho to allow Opondo to make the defamatory statements, Odoki ruled that Matembe failed to lay out the particulars of the case to assist those she dragged to court to prepare a defense.
It’s from the above grounds that Court ordered Matembe to cough costs to the respondents.