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Crowhill residents up in arms with Bvute

A decision by Harare businessman Ozias Bvute to have Crowhill residents pay $300 each to register with him as the new owner of the property and revalue their residential stands has been met with resistance.

A decision by Harare businessman Ozias Bvute to have Crowhill residents pay $300 each to register with him as the new owner of the property and revalue their residential stands has been met with resistance.

By Everson Mushava/Alois Vinga

Bvute on May 24 published an advert in a local weekly ordering the residents who bought the residential stands under an agreement with previous owner Masimba Msipa to regularise their stands with him. He was recently given the green light to take over management of Crowhill Farm.

After the advert, people claiming to be coming from Bvute’s office have been visiting the over 4 000 residents advising them to pay $300 each for regularisation of their stands.

But the move has stirred a hornet’s nest and a new legal battle is looming after some residents engaged a law firm, Matsikidze and Mucheche, to fight Bvute’s “illegal” decision. They claim their rights were being violated.

Matsikidze and Mucheche have now written to Bvute’s lawyers, Manase and Manase on behalf of Lovemore Matemera and John Museredzo challenging the ongoing regularisation process as demanded by Bvute.

In a letter dated May 29 and signed by Caleb Mucheche, the duo is demanding that Bvute retracts with due prominence his advert advising all residents to formalise their ownership since they had obtained the stands legally.

In his submissions, Mucheche said the consent order granted early this year by High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu did not reverse, cancel or annul their deed of transfer.

He noted the consent order came after the legal transfer of the immovable properties had been made.

“In any event any purported application of the aforesaid consent order to transactions where title passed to third parties, such as our clients in casu, is akin to the proverbial locking of the stable when the horse has already bolted out,” reads part of Mucheche’s letter to Manase and Manase.

“The consent order cannot negatively affect or derogate their rights as they were not party to such litigation and yet they have vested real, direct and substantial interests. It is a trite principle law that before a decision which affects a person or party’s right is taken, the affected party should be granted the right to be heard in synch with the hallowed principles of natural justice. The right to be heard has received an exalted status in terms of Section 69 of Constitution of Zimbabwe which underscores and entrenches the right to fair hearing.”

Bvute was not picking calls yesterday. But Mucheche argued that the claim that residents were holding to illegal title deeds and hence should visit his offices to regularise was “misplaced sensationalism, null and void consequently of no legal force and effect.”

Mucheche said the residents’ title deeds were legally valid and “enforceable against the whole world until set aside by a competent court of law,” something that has not been done.

“The allegation by your client that the transfer was fraudulent is not backed by any court order to that effect as the consent order which your client seems to rely on makes no mention of any fraudulent transfer. By entering into the consent order, your client truncated and trashed an opportunity to prove the alleged fraud before a competent court of law, such as to validate the contract of sale lawfully entered into by our clients and the seller,” he said.

Mucheche argued that third parties cannot be penalised due to any fraudulent activity by any company or any person representing the company the way Msipa was.

He said the surrender of valid title deeds would be vigorously opposed in a court of law and legal proceedings would be instituted to reclaim the residents’ rights if the advert was not retracted.

On Sunday, residents gathered at Crowhill Primary School and resolved to fight Bvute over his decision to resell their properties. Irate residents said they suspected Bvute and Msipa were conniving to fleece them taking advantage of their desperation to become home owners.

Over 4 000 are set to be affected.

The property has not been developed since they purchased their stands with roads in a terrible state and residents resorting to pooling their own resources to get electricity.