HIGH Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi has unearthed a fictitious chamber application filed by a suspected bogus lawyer amid fears that many other similar urgent chamber applications may have sailed through undetected.
BY CHARLES LAITON
In his judgment dated September 12, 2018, in a matter involving Digit-On Investments (Pvt) Ltd, WDM Investments (Pvt) Ltd and Lagher Investments against the National Railways Contributory Pension Fund and National Railways of Zimbabwe, Justice Chitapi raised a red flag and alerted fellow judges of his findings.
Justice Chitapi said bogus lawyers were abusing court processes and had gone to the extent of filing urgent chamber applications under the banner of registered law firms, a move which he said was worrisome.
“In view of the fact that the application was disowned by the legal practitioner who purportedly filed it, it was agreed by both Messrs Mazhande of Mazhande and Mazhande Legal Practitioners and N Bvekwa that such conduct of impersonating legal practitioners should be nipped in the bud,” Justice Chitapi said.
“It is not for me to suggest how this can be done. The best I can do is to raise the red flag and alert the judges through this judgment to be on the guard. The Judge President (JP) as indicated will be appraised accordingly. The following order was, therefore, made in light of the fact that the identities of the applicant could not be verified, thus making a dismissal inappropriate. The application is struck off the roll and copy of this judgment should be forwarded to the Law Society of Zimbabwe by the registrar.”
Justice Chitapi said on March 29, 2018 he received a phone call from the duty registrar advising him that an urgent chamber application had been filed.
The judge said he then directed the registrar to bring the said application to his chambers so that he could run through it and give instructions accordingly. Upon perusing the documents, he said, he checked the certificate of urgency purportedly issued by one Admire Masango.
“No urgency was disclosed in the certificate because the applicants were seeking a stay of an eviction sanctioned by judgment of this court, which judgment had not been appealed against nor compromised,” Justice Chitapi said, adding he then set the matter down with a view to censure the alleged lawyers.
“What motivated me to set the matter down was that I had determined that the application was an abuse of the court processes and in particular of the urgent chamber application procedure … I also intended to call upon the certifying legal practitioner to justify why a clearly unmerited application was blessed with an undeserving certificate of urgency,” he said.
Justice Chitapi said when Mazhande reported to his office, he disowned the application and expressed total ignorance of the documents.
“He (Mazhande) submitted that a fraud and forgery had been committed against his firm through the use of his trade name because he did not file the application. The purported applicants did not attend before me… it was more shocking that the legal profession could so easily be infiltrated by imposters…”