Janet Rama, a business lady sent a telephone message to Mary Kale a fellow business lady, accusing her of “stealing” her clients. The message contained abusive words to the effect that Mary Kale was “a witch” who uses “herbs” and witchcraft to lure customers to her saloon and boutique. In addition to sending the message to Mary Kale, Janet Rama sent the message to several customers of Mary Kale. As a result, Mary Kale has lost many customers and her business is threatened with closure. All the contents of the message were false. Mary Kale has come to you for legal advice. Required; i) Explain to Mary Kale the term “defamation” ii) Advise Mary Kale on her legal rights, if any.

(i) Meaning of the term “defamation”

Defamation is the publication of a statement, which reflects on a person’s reputation and tends to lower him in the estimation of right thinking members of society generally, and tend to make them shun or avoid him.

It has also been defined as a statement calculated to injure the reputation of another person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule. Has a tendency to injure him in his office, profession or trade.

Defamation is either by spoken word or gestures (slander) or representation in some permanent form for example publication in a newspaper, pictorial illustration, sign (libel).


(ii) Mary Kale’s legal rights

  • Mary Kale has been shunned by her customers.
  • She is due to close her business down.
  • She has been defamed by Janet Rama and can sue her for a damage that is compensation in monetary terms.
  • In the instant case, the words sent by the message to the effect that Mary Kale was
    a witch, uses witchcraft are abusive and defamatory.
  • These words are false.
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