Norton Council in stands scam

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THIRTEEN prospective homeowners have taken Norton Town Council to the High Court after they allegedly lost large sums of money to a former council employee who sold them non-existing residential stands.

BY CHARLES LAITON
SENIOR COURT REPORTER

The official at the centre of controversy, Obert Masunga, who at the time was council’s administration officer, has since resigned from the council.

The stands scam, which is alleged to have been executed using fraudulent council documents, was exposed in court papers filed at the High Court by the 13 applicants last December.

The affected residents said they were made to pay between $1 500 and $3 000 for the stands.

In the summons filed under case number HC10762/13 Norton Town Council was cited as the first respondent while its administration officer, Obert Masunga was cited as the second respondent.

“When the plaintiffs became impatient, they approached senior first defendant’s officials for assistance, surprisingly, the first defendant’s response was to ask second respondent to resign and was paid an exit package,” the residents said.

“The plaintiffs plead that the first defendant asked the second defendant to resign in an attempt to evade this claim.”

However, the applicants are now demanding from the council “payments of $5 000 each being the current market price for a high-density residential stands in Norton”. The home-seekers said they approached the council offices between 2011 and April 2012 where they filled in accommodation application forms provided by the council. They also allege they were made to pay the full purchase prices of the high-density stands depending on sizes after which they were offered receipts of acknowledgement of payments by the council.

“At all material times, when the plaintiffs visited the first defendant’s offices, they were assisted by the second defendant in the course and scope of his employment with the first defendant,” the plaintiffs said in their declaration. “The purchase price was also paid at the first defendant’s offices and plaintiffs were issued with defendant’s receipts, acknowledgment of receipt with first defendant’s stamp and some plaintiffs received correspondence on first defendant’s letter heads acknowledging receipt of payment of purchase price.”

After the payment of the purchase price, it is alleged, the plaintiffs received correspondences advising them that they were successful and would be allocated stands, but since 2011 nothing has materialised. The plaintiff’s lawyer Rumbidzai Gasa said although Norton Town Council had not entered an appearance to defend notice, she was reluctant to apply for a default judgment because she wanted the council to come to court and explain its position.

“Eventually, I will be forced to apply for one, but I thought it would be in the interest of justice to allow them to give their side. If they remain quiet, it would mean a lot in light of these allegations,” Gasa said.