The owner of Elite High School in Bulawayo, Maxwell Shumba, has sued the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) for $65 million following eviction from rented premises at the church farm on the outskirts of the city, three years ago.
The AFM Church, headquartered in Portland, Oregon in US owns the farm where the school was situated.
In papers filed at the High Court in Bulawayo, Shumba said he is also seeking the restoration of his school on Dunstal Farm, where it had been operating from since inception in 1999.
After evicting Shumba from its farm, the church reportedly rented out the buildings to another private education institute, Green Sables High School.
In his application, Shumba cited the church, its chairman Richard John Sibanda, other church officials Julius Matope and Milford Ndlovu as well as Green Gables High School as defendants.
“The plaintiff claim against defendants is for: payment of $30 000 000 being damages for wrongful eviction from subdivision B of Dunstal Farm, Bulawayo on the 17th of November 2009 by 2nd to 4th defendants (Sibanda, Matope and Ndlovu) at 1st defendant’s (the church) instance.
Payment of $20 000 000 being damages for loss of income occasioned by such eviction. Payment of $ 15 000 000 for the use of plaintiff’s furniture, laboratory equipment, heating equipment and chemicals for defendant’s financial benefit.
“The immediate restoration of 2nd plaintiff (Elite High School) to subdivision B of Dunstal Farm, Bulawayo. Cost of suit on attorney — client scale,” read the summons.
Elite High School was closed in 2009 at a time when pupils were about to sit for their national examinations. Instead, the students ended up writing from an alternative venue in the city centre.
Shumba claims he was illegally evicted from the school and accused Sibanda of leasing out the premises to Green Gables High school without the blessing of the main church.