Big lady sues over insult and wins fat payout of R50000

Chester Makana

Chester Makana

The manager of Thulamela Municipality, Makonde Mathivha, has been ordered to pay R50000 to a woman who claims she was insulted and arrested "unlawfully" by a traffic officer who ejected her from a taxi.

The woman was allegedly told she was too fat to be in a taxi.

The Thohoyandou high court has ordered the municipality to pay Lydia Tsanwani, of Tshituni, R50000 in damages.

This was after she successfully sued the municipality, claiming she was discriminated against. The incident happened in 2002.

Tsanwani said she suffered trauma when the traffic officer insulted her in front of other passengers.

Tsanwani, a teacher at Tshivhidzo Masiagwala Secondary School in Ngovhela, said through her lawyer, Philip Sebola, that she was singled out as a "non-existing person or disabled person".

She was returning from attending a wedding at the Thohoyandou Indoor Sports Centre when the officer, identified only as Mulanduli, stopped the taxi in which she was travelling.

He asked the driver why he had allowed a fat woman to occupy the front seat.

Tsanwani said she had felt insulted and the officer's "irresponsible" utterances had caused her stress.

"When he said those words to me I felt like I was not normal.

"I felt like my weight was a disability. I was really humiliated," Tsanwani said.

"I was stressed and started to try and lose weight as a result of the officer's words. But I've come to realise that I too have rights."

The obese woman said the officer also ordered that she be arrested after she voiced her disapproval of the officer's words to her.

She spent a few hours in the police cells and was released after paying R150 bail.

She also claimed she was pushed hard by the police officers when they wanted to lock her up in the cells.

"People such as Mulanduli should be taught a lesson - never to discriminate against any person," said an indignant Tsanwani.