HARARE – Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has been sucked into a wrangle over the control of a popular entertainment joint located on the outskirts of the capital city, Harare.
The property, Globetrotter — owned by the late businessman Dickson Sabawu — is at the centre of a feud involving the late Sabawu’s first wife, Gladys Mandhlamakulu, and children of his second wife, Charity Sabawu (nee Mukarati).
Mandhlamakulu, who had reportedly been divorced and only came back at the insistence of her children after the late Sabawu had been imprisoned for fatally shooting Charity in September 2008, wants full ownership and control of the estate of the late businessman.
In her bid to stop the children of the second wife from benefitting from the estate, Mandhlamakulu sought the intervention of Mphoko.
A letter by Mandhlamakulu, seen by the Daily News, brings up Mphoko’s name in the dispute.
“Subsequent to the meeting held at … Mphoko’s offices on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, wherein you and my eldest son were present, you were duly instructed to vacate the estate of the late D K Sabawu on the same day.
“You are being reminded to vacate the said premises with immediate effect and upon receipt of this letter. Please remove without delay, all your belongings and all persons you have illegally brought onto the estate,” reads part of the letter, addressed to a tenant at Globetrotter.
Minister of State in Mphoko’s office Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga confirmed that the vice president met Mandhlamakulu and sons of the late Sabawu at his offices but referred the quarrelling parties to “the relevant authorities”.
“The matter came into his office and it was referred to the relevant authorities to handle it,” she told the Daily News.
Asked who the relevant authorities were, Kanengoni-Malinga said the feuding parties were referred to the police.
On Monday, scores of police officers descended on Globetrotter more than three months after the parties to the dispute had met Mphoko at his offices.
They forcibly evicted tenants as well as children from Sabawu’s second marriage, beating up patrons and passersby in the process.
The Daily News crew witnessed police officers, armed with batons, beating a group of passersby. Another group blocked the entrance into the Globetrotter complex while a section of the force searched for revellers who had gone into hiding.
As this was happening, another set of police officers was busy throwing goods out of the complex. Even refrigerators containing meat and beer bottles were also thrown out.
There was also widespread looting.
The Daily News crew also witnessed some satchels loaded with beer bottles hidden along the tarred road.
When the Daily News contacted one of the late Sabawu’s sons, Ngoni, he referred the paper to his lawyer Thomas Nyakunika of Mupindu Legal Practitioners.
Nyakunika said the violent police raid was part of the fight for the control of the late Sabawu’s estate.
“It has been an ongoing wrangle of the family of the late … Sabawu. He had divorced his first wife and she subsequently left the property as a result of the divorce.
“Sabawu later shot his second wife in domestic dispute and he was jailed for some years. The first wife came back when he was in jail. When Sabawu came out of the jail, they were still not in good books, he was pushing her to vacate the estate,” Nyakunika said.
He added that the late Sabawu’s first wife’s was pushing to gain total control of Globetrotter even though the estate is still to be finalised.
“The execution of the estate is still to be finalised but shockingly the first wife influenced high offices to push Sabawu’s children from the second marriage out of the estate.
“Police have abused the law as eviction is carried out by sheriffs; they are taking law into their hands. They have beat people here, throwing bar, butchery and kitchen furniture out as well as looting beer. They were just doing as they please. That was clear criminal abuse of office,” Nyakunika said, adding:
“Police acted without an order because someone just sent them to harass and throw out citizens and tenants from premises. What is the purpose of the courts? The matter for eviction is before the courts and being challenged under Case Number 19157 at Harare Civil Court. Summary judgment set for argument on November 28.”
Harare provincial spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Republic Police Simon Chazovachii professed ignorance over the raid of Globetrotter by the police.
“I am not aware of that incident,” he said before referring the Daily News to police deputy spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi whose mobile phone was not reachable.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba was repeatedly not picking her mobile phone.
Yesterday several police officers were still the guarding the premises.
This is not the first time that Mphoko has been sucked into disputes of this nature.
In July last year, he reportedly went to Avondale Police Station in Harare and ordered the release of top Zimbabwe National Road Administration officials, who had been arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission on graft allegations involving over $1 million.
In May this year, Mphoko, who was acting president at the time, reportedly barged into Bulawayo Central Police Station, to vent out his anger over the arrest of several Zanu PF activists.
The activists had been arrested in connection with the intra-party violence that occurred at the party’s provincial offices at Davis Hall.