BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
BENEFICIARY of E Pfugari Estate, Henrietta Nyanyiwa has successfully stopped the executor from charging 15% of the estate’s gross assets instead of 5% as stipulated by the law.
In court papers before the High Court, Nyanyiwa had accused the executor of the estate of trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the beneficiaries.
She demanded that the executor be removed, a request granted by Justice Owen Tagu.
Nyanyiwa had cited the Master of the High Court, executor Clive Mandizvidza, E Pfugari Estate (Pvt) Limited, and Eddies Pfugari (Pvt) Limited as the first to fourth respondents.
She is a beneficiary of the late Edward Nyanyiwa’s estate and wanted the court to set aside the Master of the High Court’s decision to confirm the liquidation and distribution accounts filed by E Pfugari Properties in respect of the estate.
Henrietta also contended that there was no proper valuation of the shares held by the deceased in the various companies he had interests in as envisaged by the Estate Duty Act [Chapter 23:03].
“That the executor ,who is more interested in enriching himself at the expense and to the prejudice of the beneficiaries, would have failed to perform his duties and must be removed from office,” she submitted.
Mandizvidza was appointed the executor of the estate of the late Nyanyiwa on March 21, 2019.
On August 25, 2020 Henrietta’s lawyers wrote two letters of complaint to the Master of the High Court seeking determination on whether the interim distribution account for the estate of the late Nyanyiwa should be set aside or whether the fees charged by the Mandizvidza should be set aside. They also sought his removal as executor.
“According to the applicant, the second respondent’s conduct constituted overcharging and that the account be set aside,” Justice Tagu’s judgment read.
Mandizvidza, however, refuted the allegations, saying a valuation was being done under section 6 of the Estate Duty Act. He also said the applicant had failed to demonstrate how the estate had been overcharged and that he simply taxed the estate as informed by the statutes.
Justice Tagu said Mandizvidza did not dispute that the 15% fee was not fair.
“It is trite that which is not disputed in the affidavits is taken as admitted. I say so because the first and second respondents did not dispute the applicant’s assertion that the 15% fee charged is neither fair nor reasonable. Once it is accepted that the first respondent ought to have assessed whether the fee charged is fair and reasonable, which he did not do since he simply followed what was placed before him by the second respondent (Mandizvidza), then it must follow that it was not as that fact was not challenged,” Justice Tagu ruled.
“A 5% fee would still translate to a very substantial amount by any standard and would have constituted a more than reasonable fee for the second respondent.”
Justice Tagu further castigated Mandizvidza over his brazen attitude he displayed when he went on to dispose the assets after the approval by Master of High Court in the face of court challenges.
The judge then ordered that the decision to confirm Mandizvidza’s interim liquidation and distribution accounts in the estate of the late Edward Nyanyiwa under DR Number 471/19 be set aside.
He also removed Mandizvidza from being the executor of the estate and ordered that only 5% should be charged on the gross value of the estate.
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