Gunda case deferred as judge falls ill

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The High Court case pitting the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) against Tatenda Rangarirai Gunda, widow of the late national hero Brigadier-General Paul Gunda, has been deferred indefinitely after judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha fell ill.

Gunda’s widow and the army have been embroiled in a legal battle over ownership of an army house, located at Suburbs in Bulawayo, since 2008 and the matter has since sucked in Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The matter was supposed to resume today. Gunda’s lawyer James Mutizwa confirmed the development on Tuesday. “The hearing is no longer there tomorrow (Wednesday). I have just received correspondence from Justice Kamocha’s clerk advising me that the judge won’t be available as he is not feeling well,” said Mutizwa.

“We are now in the process of liaising with my counterparts on a date convenient to all parties. I can only attend court on Wednesdays because of other commitments, so on the day, there are no flights to Bulawayo because of the pilots’ strike. You will be advised of the date once it is agreed upon,” said Mutizwa.

The ZNA is seeking to evict the widow from a government house in Bulawayo’s plush Suburbs neighbourhood, arguing she was no longer entitled to the house following her husband’s death in 2007.

But Gunda’s widow insists her husband had received an offer to purchase the property from ZNA.

She submitted that her continued stay in the house was because she was pursuing her late husband’s entitlement to his benefits which included the right to buy the house as promised to him and the right to a new Toyota Prado vehicle.

The widow was first served with a notice of eviction by the army in 2008, almost a year after her husband’s death.

The matter was partly heard early last month but was postponed to today after the courts ordered the army to number its documents and furnish the court with missing papers.

ZNA commander Philip Valerio Sibanda filed an affidavit on behalf of Mnangagwa, arguing the widow’s right to occupy the house expired on July 31 2007, saying her continued stay was unlawful.

He dismissed claims that Gunda had been offered to buy the house which was his official residence before his tragic death in a car accident in 2007.

Sibanda said the widow was neither an army employee nor was she paying rent to anyone for her continued occupation of the house and was neither a holder of title deeds nor a lease agreement as regards the house

He said Gunda’s widow had denied “deserving commander of One Brigade who is serving the interests of the State” his right to occupy the house. The commander of One Brigade is Brigadier-General Thomas Moyo.