THE Supreme Court has recognised and ruled in favour of the late Masvingo mayor Thomas Zawaira’s 10 children born out of wedlock, who had been left out in the distribution of their father’s estate.
Zawaira, who served as Masvingo’s first black mayor, died in 2003 leaving behind a spouse Felistas Zawaira and 16 children, 10 of them born out of wedlock with different women.
His estate, on the instructions of the Master of the High Court, was distributed equally among Felistas and her six children.
The other 10 children who were left out of the estate distribution approached the High Court challenging the decision, but their case was dismissed prompting them to seek recourse at the Supreme Court.
The matter was heard recently by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Justices Anne-Marie Gowora and Ben Hlatshwayo who ruled that the 10 were equally entitled to benefit from their late father’s estate.
Through their lawyers from Munangati and Associates, the 10 children argued that Zawaira’s intention was to sire more children than could be facilitated by a single wedded wife and they were, therefore, entitled to benefit from his estate.
However, lawyers from Mukonoweshuro and Associates, representing the other six children, said the appeal should be dismissed as what the late Zawaira did in siring 10 children out of wedlock was adultery and these children were not entitled to anything from the estate.
In their judgment, the judges noted that: “There are civil remedies to protect the marriage available to a partner faced with a bed hopping spouse, such as suing for adultery damages and related remedies.
“The father of an out of wedlock child is liable to maintain such child and the deceased was indeed supporting such children during his lifetime, the justice of this case cries out for such support to be maintained and the customary law should be deemed to apply to the distribution of the deceased’s estate among the children.
“Accordingly, it is ordered as follows: the appeal succeeds.”