An estate wrangle between the two wives of the late prominent Masvingo businessperson Emirio Magovo has sucked in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu).
Magovo’s first wife and her five children have filed a letter of complaint against the Master of the High Court, who they accuse of lacking professionalism in handling Magovo’s estate after the court was allegedly duped by Magovo’s second wife, Miriam Magovo, into fraudulently selling the late businessman’s assets before lawful final distribution.
Magovo, a sugarcane farmer in Chiredzi died in 2018, but he did not leave a will for his assets which include a sugarcane plantation at Plot 3 Buffalo Range, five houses and commercial stands, a Nissan Mirano vehicle and cash in his bank account.
Magovo’s two wives, Miriam and Georgina Mutemeri were listed as beneficiaries together with his five children who are Maureen, Mercy, Chipo, Vongai and Amon he sired with Mutemeri.
Mutemeri and her five children are accusing Miriam of conniving with the executor of the estate Oliver Masomere and the Master of the High Court to deprive them of the estate property. Four residential stands are now up for sale without their knowledge.
A letter written by the Master of the High Court, dated June 8, 2022 seen by NewsDay shows that Masomere had been authorised to sell the asserts after Miriam had requested their disposal.
But the late businessperson’s other wife and her five children say they are unaware of the procedure that led to the Master of the High Court permitting disposal of the property since they did not agree with Miriam.
The children questioned why the final distribution of the estate had dragged for about four years and why the executor had not explained what was stopping finalisation of the matter.
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Documents show that Magovo’s estate was wound up in June 2020 after the Master of the High Court had approved the distribution plan and the estate’s costs had already been paid.
They lodged a complaint with JSC and Sacu against the Master of the High Court, who they accused of lacking professionalism in handling Magovo's estate.
In the letter dated July 8, 2022, Mutemeri and her children, through their lawyer Collen Maboke of Messrs, Ruvengo, Maboke and Company, accuse the Master of the High of smuggling a letter which Miriam allegedly wrote seeking permission to sell the property because it was not in the record.
“We have been instructed by our clients who are beneficiaries of the estate of the late Emirio Magovo to write to you expressing concern over the administration of the said estate,” Maboke wrote in the letter.
Contacted for comment, Masomere referred NewsDay to the Master of the High Court.
“The Master of the High Court is the one who can comment on the matter,” he said. “I can’t speak on the matter that I am dealing with. However, the aggrieved parties may not be telling the truth because they feel that things are not going according to what they expected.”
But according to a letter written by Masomere to Maboke on July 11, 2022, the executor accused Magovo's children of misbehaving when they visited his offices and stated that he would do a post-death income and expenditure account of the funds received from the sugarcane plantation since the time it was listed as part of the estate.
“It is a duty as a lawyer to advise your clients what is required for a buyout to be permissible,” Masomere said. “You must be aware that there must be a buy-out agreement between the parties. It is binding to all beneficiaries and the office of the executor when one or more of the beneficiaries write expressing his or her wish to have the properties sold.”
Miriam also referred NewsDay to the Master of the High Court after only saying: “I know nothing about any of these issues.”
Masvingo Master of the High Court Hazvinei Panasvi refused to comment on the matter.
“I am not allowed to speak to the media,” she said.
Maboke told NewsDay that JSC and Sacu were yet to respond to the complaints raised by his clients.
He said: “We wrote a letter after suspecting some corrupt activities on the execution of the late Magovos estate. We saw it prudent to alert the authorities so that they investigate the matter. We are yet to get the response.”
Sacu director Thabani Mpofu said: “The anti-corruption unit receives several complaints of a similar nature hence I need to check and revert.”
JSC secretary Walter Chikwanha was not answering calls.
- Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya