Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tanzania: Case of French boy killed by leopard filed

Happy Lazaro
Arusha Times (Arusha)
March 10, 2007

On October 1, 2005 Adelino Pereira, an employee of the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), his wife Cecile and their two children, Adrien and Clement, left Arusha for Tarangire National Park for what they thought would be a great weekend and treat for the family.

After checking in at Tarangire Safari Lodge at about 2pm, the family set off for a game-drive, an exciting adventure for six-year-old Adrien and his brother Clement aged three years. They returned from the wild well before sunset and went for a relaxing moment by the swimming-pool, where they came across a friend, accompanied by her two children and three other acquaintances.

The family went to the dining hall at 7.30pm, where they met their friends again and sat together for dinner. Children being children have to play. After finishing their meal, the four of them left the table and began playing in and around the dining hall.

Suddenly at about 8.15pm the parents still at the dinner table heard some people shout outside in the direction of the barbecue pit. The shouting not only put the parents on their feet but echoed and implanted grief to the rest of their lives.

Mr Pereira, his wife and their friend rushed outside only to discover that their son Adrien was missing. An absence that they could not fathom. An absence that became a permanent dent to their lives. Someone in the shaken crowd informed them that a leopard had grabbed the child (Adrien) and ran with him into the bush. The holiday mood suddenly changed into an everlasting anguish.

Mr Pereira and two other people momentarily jumped into a vehicle and despondently pursued the leopard only to find the boy lying motionless, not far from the dining area. Grief-stricken, the search team picked Adrien and rushed to a dispensary where he was pronounced dead. Adrien's body was taken to the Mount Meru Hospital in Arusha where an autopsy was conducted and subsequently flown to France for burial.

Adrien's case is now in process at the High Court of Tanzania in Arusha, labeled Civil Case No. 10 of 2006. Mr Pereira has sued Sinyati Ltd t/a Tarangire Safari Lodge.

According to a plaint filed in the court, Sinyati/ Tarangire Safari Lodge was "solely responsible in negligence" for the death of Adrien, a former student of Braeburn in Arusha.

M.K. Kimomogoro, of Imboru Chambers Advocates, is representing the plaintiff. Particulars of negligence listed in the plaint include holding a barbecue for visitors at night; failure to warn visitors including the plaintiff (Mr Pereira) about the likely presence of a leopard within the precincts of the lodge; failure to warn visitors against permitting children to be unaccompanied by adults; and failure to place enough security guards within the lodge precincts ...

The plaintiff is thus claiming compensation for the value of the suit and general damages.

Mawalla and Associates, represented by Nyaga Mawalla, are standing for Sinyati Ltd t/a Tarangire Safari Lodge. In their statement of defence they claim, inter alia, that the plaintiff had full knowledge and awareness that he and his family were within a wildlife area and therefore responsible "to reasonably ensure that himself and his children remained within the dining hall instead of playing outside in the dark without being accompanied by an adult." The accident, they claim, was caused or contributed to by the negligence of the plaintiff.

The case, before Justice R. Sheikh of the High Court of Tanzania in Arusha was first mentioned on August 14, 2006 . The Second and Third mentions were on 1st and 8th March this year.


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