Court blocks Buyanga property takeover

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HARARE – A Harare woman Ireen Chiwara has managed to stop the auction of a house attached over a debt owed to businessman Frank Buyanga.

Zevenrose Enterprises (Private) Limited (Zevenrose) bought the disputed Borrowdale Brooke property from Buyanga’s Hamilton Property Holdings Limited (Hamilton), but failed to take ownership after Chiwara — the ex-owner who lost the property over a debt — contested the takeover.

Efforts to eject Chiwara, who is the second respondent, hit a brickwall last week as High Court judge Priscillah Chigumba ruled that the December 2009, agreement of sale between Chiwara and Hamilton Group, cited as the first respondent, was a “sham.”

Zevenrose was seeking an order from the High Court to remove Chiwara from the home.

Although official estimates put the cost of the house in the upmarket suburb of Borrowdale at around $300 000, Zevenrose, which bought the house for only $95 000, was seeking the courts to compel Hamilton Group “to take all necessary steps required in order to effect transfer to the plaintiff of the property.”

“It is inconceivable that a person can purport to sell a property in Borrowdale Brooke, an affluent suburb, for $22 500 when its current value is $300 000,” said judge Chigumba.

“Its market value at the time, in 2010, was $170 000. Its forced sell value was $150 000. It is inconceivable that plaintiff picked it up for a song.”

With Buyanga’s Hamilton Group fighting numerous battles for allegedly taking people’s fixed and movable assets on the sly, problems started when hard-pressed Zimbabweans and several companies approached the property financier for cash under interest-bearing and 12-month “buy-back” agreements, which they failed to honour.

Although the 33-year-old businessman has won numerous fights — leading to his December 2010 clearance on both criminal and commercial charges by the police.

Buyanga and his employees still find themselves subject of interest by a section of Zimbabwe’s criminal justice system.

Chiwara, one of the victims of the money laundering scams, denied that she ever reached an agreement of sale with Hamilton Group, a passionate plea that was corroborated by other witnesses who were also charmed by Buyanga into signing agreement of sale papers and surrendering their title deeds only to lose them.

Chigumba predicted that the courts may be bogged down by “similar issues and the different alleged victims of this colossal fraud.”

In her judgment, judge Chigumba ruled that the house in question was never sold.

“First defendant lent and advanced and second respondent borrowed cash sum of $22 500. There was no intention to buy or sell the property known as stand number 449 Borrowdale Brooke for that sum,” read the judgment.

Chigumba said the purported agreement of sale between Buyanga’s company and Zevenrose “was not legitimate, or lawful, because first defendant claim that it had title to the property was incorrect.”

“It follows that plaintiff (Zevenrose) is not entitled to any rights, title or interests. For these reasons, the plaintiff’s entire claim is dismissed with costs.” Chigumba said in the judgment.

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