Businessman piles pressure on top judge

Tendai Mashamhanda

Harare businessman Tendai Mashamhanda has lodged another complaint with the government saying he has more evidence that deputy chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza allegedlyacted inappropriately in a case where he lost a house.

Mashamhanda in May wrote a letter to Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi chronicling how Gwaunza allegedly connived with fellow judges and top lawyers  to overturn a default judgement granted in his favour in July  2021.

On August 25, he submitted another letter  to Ziyambi saying he had unearthed more information demonstrating how his case was mishandled by the top judge.

The judgement followed a legal challenge against the businessman, who had bought a Highlands house that once belonged to Puwayi Chiutsi through an auction for US$230 000.

Two weeks after receiving the deeds of transfer, Mashamhanda was notified that lawyer Tendai Biti had filed an urgent application seeking the cancellation of the title deed.

Biti was acting on instruction from one Elliot Rodgers, who is based in the United Kingdom.

“I reported to the police alleging that Chiutsi had sold me a property burdened by a caveat,” Mashamanda says in the latest complaint to Ziyambi.

“The deeds office maintained its position that there was no caveat registered against the property and Chiutsi was acquitted.”

Rodgers, represented by Biti, subsequently filed an urgent chamber application seeking cancellation of the title deeds.

The matter was dismissed by Justice Jacob Manzunzu on March 27, 2019.

Biti subsequently appealed against the judgement.

On April 12, 2019, a company called Bariade Investments filed an application seeking the cancellation of the deed.

The matter was also dismissed by Justice Tawanda Chitapi.

“They relied on a strategy that ensured that the matter could not be heard and disposed of at the High Court through asking judges of the High Court to recuse themselves,” Mashamanda added.

“The matter was first heard by Justice Chinamhora and he recused himself at the behest of Biti.

“The matter was then allocated to Justice Munangati Manongwa and she again recused herself.

“Chiutsi was deliberately served papers at the wrong address and was not aware of the hearing.

“The matter was struck off the register and allocated back to Justice Chinamhora. He again recused himself.

“The matter was finally allocated to Justice Chitapi who refused to recuse himself.”

Chitapi ruled in favour of Mashamhanda and Bariade Investments subsequently wrote a letter of complaint asking that the judge be investigated.

“The Supreme Court lawyers and Bariade Investments colluded to frame a case against Chitapi alleging that he held an unscheduled court hearing in July 2021 for the main purpose of granting a default judgement in favour of Chiutsi.

“The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe set aside the High Court default judgement,” added Mashamhanda.

Gwaunza subsequently cancelled deed number 708/19 held by Mashamhanda.

“It is obvious that the complaint by the appellant Bariade Investments was placed before Honourable Deputy Chief Justice, who would have discussed the contents in the complaint document by Bariade Investments with the secretary of the Judicial Services Commission.

“After dealing with the matter in an administrative capacity, the Honourable Deputy Chief Justice would then go to the Supreme Court to make her judgements on the matter.

“Unfortunately the judgement contains false information propagated by Bariade Investments and false information created by researchers and the deputy chief justice in the Supreme Court judgement.”

Mashamhanda said Gwaunza defeated the course of justice as she was aware that the property ownership wrangle was pending before the High Court.

“The deputy chief justice was in a hurry to hear the appeals under the pretext that Chiutsi had filed numerous cases with the High Court,” he wrote.

“The issue before the High Court was that Chiutsi’s property was never auctioned because there was no auction.

“An auction cannot be created by simply playing games. It must be held in accordance with the law.”

The latest complaint was copied to Chief Justice Luke Malaba, the Law Society of Zimbabwe , police commissioner general Godwin Matanga, Zimbabwe Anti- Corruption Commission, registrar of deeds and the attorney general.

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