Harare law firm in soup over trust funds

Top Harare lawyer Jacqueline Sande has landed in trouble for failing to repay trust funds after her firm failed to purchase a house on behalf of client.

By Everson Mushava

The client, Simbarashe Kwenda (41), who is the founding trustee of Resim Kwenda Family Trust, has now launched a court bid to recover the US$20 000 and at the same time reported Sande to the police and law society over what he described a fraudulent act.

The matter has been reported under case number 10172/19 and Kwenda is represented by Alex Majachani of Alex F & Associates.

Kwenda is demanding “payment of the sum of US$20 000 or equivalent interbank rate in ZW$ prevailing on the date of payment being amount entrusted to the defendants by the plaintiff together with interest at the rate of 5% per annum from the date of summons to the date of payment in full”.

According to Kwenda, in his founding affidavit dated June 23, sometime in June 2018, Kwenda received information to the fact that Simuka Real Estate, owned by Sande, was selling a property in Highfield, Harare.

Kwenda made an offer of US$20 000 for the house, which was accepted by Sande, who was named as the second defendant in the matter.

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In her capacity as the owner of the real estate company, at the same time legal practitioner and conveyancer with Sande Legal Practioners, cited as the first defendant, Sande was responsible for receiving the money and doing the conveyancing work involved in the transfer of the property.

“Pursuant to the above, plaintiff on June 21, 2019 paid into the first defendant’s Trust account number 8700208157801 US$20 000, which was meant for purchasing the above-mentioned property,” Kwenda said.

“The money was not used to pay for the property as agreed and it has since turned out that the property was unavailable for sale. The development prompted the plaintiff to cancel the contract of sale and requested the first and second respondent to refund the money they were holding in the trust.

According to Kwenda, he made several attempts to recover the money from Sande without success.

“On July 2, 2019, the second defendant went on to submit fictitious proof of payments to the plaintiff’s legal practioners of record. Upon being asked to rectify the same, the second defendant, on July 9, 2019, further presented a fake electronic proof of payment to the plaintiff’s legal practitioners,” Kwenda claimed.

“Despite lawful demand and several reminders, the defendant has failed, neglected or refused to refund the plaintiff the money held in trust being the sum of US$20 000.”

According to a letter to the Zimbabwe Law Society dated July 15 July, Kwenda said Sande confirmed she was the owner of Simuka Real Estate and confirmed to be the employer of one Tari, who acted as the agent in the sale of the house.

He claimed Sande has been giving conflicting statements and sometimes at variance with what Tari said, forcing him to demand a refund after he eventually managed to talk to the owner of the house who disclosed he had been out of communication with the lawyer.

When he demanded his money back, Sande said she only had US$15 000 after using US$5 000 to pay rates for the house.
“We questioned the decision of paying rates for the property which she knew was not owned by her client, but we did not get a clear answer.

“She indicated that she will pay the US$15 000 while the remainder of US$5 000 was to be paid by end of week after consultation with her client. Our lawyers Alex F and Associates gave their Trust account number to deposit the money,” Kwenda, who said he felt defrauded, said.

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