Malawian-born ex-UK soldier Brian Muyepa, who is the husband of musician Racheal Muyepa also known as ‘Queen Sheba’, has lost a £3 million (over K3.5 billion) compensation claim and is now facing £180,000 (about K214 million) in legal bills after a judge ruled that he was lying about the severity of his injuries.
Muyepa, aged, 34, took the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence to court saying severe ‘non-freezing cold injuries’ more commonly known as trench foot – suffered during his time in the army left him disabled and walking ‘like a penguin.’
Muyepa is former Royal Artillery gunner and he said he attended a promotion exercise in Sennybridge, Wales, in March 2016.
The Daily Mail reported that Muyepa during the exercise spent time in a cold water-filled tunnel, but then had to continue for another five-and-a-half hours afterwards in wet boots.
Following the training, Muyepa was diagnosed with non-freezing cold injury, which is characterised by pain in the extremities and an oversensitivity to cold.
“Mr Muyepa had insisted that his injury left him so disabled that he was reduced to shuffling about and relying on a walking stick or his wife to help him get around.
“Following his diagnosis, it was recommended that Mr Muyepa be protected from cold in future, his lawyers claim.
“But after a stay on Ascension Island, he was exposed again at Salisbury Plain in early 2017, when he spent much of his time working outdoors on vehicles.
“His condition subsequently worsened and he was diagnosed as having ‘very severe’ cold sensitivity in his feet,” the Daily Mail reported.
Muyepa, who was medically discharged from the army in 2018, went to court where he claimed that the injury had severely affected aspects of his everyday life as he required a walking stick to move about, could not get out of bed on some occasions and suffered sleeplessness.
The Malawian man initially demanded around £3m damages but later dropped the compensation claim to about £1.7m (about K2 billion).
However, lawyer for the Ministry of Defence argued that Muyepa told a pack of ‘lies’ to inflate the value of his compensation claim.
The lawyer presented in court videos, some taken from Facebook and others from covertly recorded surveillance, which he said showed that Muyepa misled care experts about his disability.
“In one video, Mr Muyepa can be seen in an apron, marinating chicken at a barbecue, while dancing around to loud music,” the Daily Mail reported.
Muyepa in his defence argued that he was not dancing enthusiastically as before.
However, Mr Justice Cotter, at London’s High Court, found that Muyepa had suffered minor genuine non-freezing cold injures during his army service.
For the minor injuries, Muyepa would have been entitled to damages of £97,595.33 (over K100 milllion). However, the Judge said Muyepa should not even receive that compensation and should pay £280,000 in legal fees to the Ministry of Defence. He is now required to pay £180,000 after the compensation was deducted.
According to the Judge, Muyepa suffered minor non-freezing cold injuries but after an initial period of trying to cope with the symptoms, Muyepa decided to present a picture to the defendant, his friends, medico-legal experts and the court that he was suffering from very severe non-freezing cold injuries which had left him greatly disabled.
“He fundamentally and persistently transformed the claim by dishonest exaggeration.
“His dishonesty tainted the whole claim from the outset.
“The claimant started to exaggerate symptoms by limping and using a stick. There was no reason for him to limp and he did not need a stick,” the Judge said.
The Judge also noted that there are marked discrepancies between Muyepa’s account of his condition and the footage of him at the wedding and at the barbecue.
“Social media clips and surveillance showed the claimant was able to walk normally without a stick, dance, drive – getting into and out of the car unaided in respect of the former it was shown with ease – and undertake shopping.
‘He has hugely exaggerated his symptoms.
“I am wholly satisfied the claimant was dishonest. He deliberately exaggerated symptoms and functional limitations for financial gain.
“I find that the claimant began to deliberately and significantly exaggerate symptoms in March/April 2017 in order to secure his discharge from the army with a payout.
“He was dishonest from a very early stage and before the case was commenced..’