Stephen Ephraem in CHECHECHE
A CHECHECHE couple that used to be the envy of the growth point is now at loggerheads.
So bitter is the relationship that counter-accusations are flying left, right and centre between Lazarus Chanetsa Maravichi and Catherine Kufamuni of Stand Numbers 462 to 464, Phase 5, Checheche.
Lazarus is accusing Catherine of swindling him of his property, whereas the latter is accusing the former of arrogance.
Lazarus said: "I customarily married Catherine in 2005. She was my second wife. In 2008, I acquired three residential stands 462/3/4 which were registered in my name. I proposed to build a double storey house covering all the three stands. I also proposed to build a three-roomed cottage at the back of each stand. My plan was approved by the Chipinge Rural District Council on August 27, 2008. I managed to construct two cottages on stands 463 and 464. I allowed stand 463 to be used by my first wife and stand 464 by Catherine. As a polygamist, I routinely stayed in both cottages."
He said all has not been well between them since 2010.
"My in-laws came to my place demanding the outstanding bride price and took Catherine away pending the payment of the outstanding amount. I agreed to pay the balance and we came out with a payment plan that we signed. They collected my property from Stand 464 to their home pending my payment. I reported them to the police, but we reached an out of court settlement on March 10, 2010. Catherine was taken to her brother, Samuel's home in Harare."
He said he felt that Catherine used his relatives to trick him.
"Catherine came back from Harare and opted to stay at the backyard of a rented premise at the growth point. To my surprise, Catherine put a tenant, Lucky Chikwanda at Stand 464 without my consent. On April 4, 2010, I sought justice at the community court, but both the in-laws and Catherine absconded. On April 13, I applied for a 12-month peace order (GL38/10) against Lucky Chikwanda at the Chipinge Magistrate's Court. On April 24, Catherine hit back with a counter court order (GL62/10) to re-instate Chikwanda. I opposed the court order. But before judgement could be granted, false accusations of breach of that peace order were levelled against me. This resulted in my arrest (CR42/06/10) on June 28 and I served a 6-month prison term," he said.
He further claimed that upon his release from prison, he found out that Catherine had obtained ownership of Stand 464.
"To me this was fraud. She was in possession of a stand application form with receipt number 810771 dated 12 April 2010. I don't know how Catherine could assume ownership in 2010 when the initial building of my cottage took place in 2008. Moreover, we are still husband and wife since we didn't give each other a divorce token."
He added: "On May 11, 2010, I made a court application at the Chipinge Magistrate Court to nullify Catherine's peace order (GL62/10) and her entitlement to the ownership of Stand 464. I won the case. Soon after winning my case, Catherine appealed that the case be handled in a difference court. I was not happy with the transfer of the case to another court. The case was thus transferred to Mutare Magistrate's Court. On May 28, 2010, the Mutare Magistrate Court confirmed receipt of Maravichi's case. Before the Mutare court dealt with the case, it is surprising that the Chipinge Rural District Council, in a letter dated 15 June 2010 ref MN/mn/219/06/10, wrote to the Chipinge Magistarte's Court confirming that Stand 464 belonged to Catherine.''
He alleged that Catherine started to interfere with State witnesses and police investigations.
"Her actions angered me so much that I confronted Catherine and Chikwanda. I was arrested for assault (CR16/06/10, CR 42/06/10, CR78/06/10, CR 27/04/11 and CR 47/06/11) and served five more prison terms totalling to one and half years.
"On November 2, 2010, Catherine was summoned to appear in court for interfering with State witnesses and police investigations. The case was heard on November 24, 2010 and she was found guilty of breaching the court order and was fined $100.
"On November 28, 2010, I appeared before a Mutare Magistrate's Court accused of damaging Catherine's property at Stand 464. and I was acquitted (3011/11). Barely a month after my acquittal, Catherine hired a group of assailants who attacked me at my home at around 8pm. I lost a front tooth. This is confirmed in a medical affidavit by the District Medical Officer in Chipinge on June 16, 2011. The damages done to my cottage are still evident to this day," fumed Lazarus.
The case was back in the courts again at the Mutare magistrate's court on July 1, 2011, where Catherine was granted ownership of Stand 464 (243/11).
The ruling also resulted in the eviction of Lazarus from Stand 464 and stopped him from visiting the premises.
Part of the judgement reads: "In an apparent self-contradiction, the respondent (Lazarus) in paragraph 2.4 of his opposing affidavit stated that the original Lease Agreement which bore his names had since expired. This effectively means that he does not have a Lease of Agreement for the stand which he proclaims he owns. He has no proof of ownership of the stand in issue... On the merits of the case, the applicant (Cathrine) proved by way of a Lease Agreement that she owns stand number 464 Checheche. "
Lazarus said he appealed against the ruling on July 12, 2011 at the High Court (CIVA 360/11).
"A hearing was done on September 1, 2011 and I lost the case with costs. On September 14, 2011, a Messenger of Court was given warrant of execution against movable and immovable property on Stand 464 pending the appeal I made with the High Court. I was summoned to pay costs amounting to $1 521,30."
He said Catherine defied the court order that gave the Messenger of Court power to oversee the disputed property on two occasions.
"First, on November 14, 2011 Catherine, Lucky Chikwanda, Vuso Kufamuni and Courage Mugodhini threw out my property from Stand 464. On March 20, 2012, Catherine sold the disputed property to a couple, Richard Mafa and Nyaradzo Zindete of Chiredzi for a paltry $2 500 without the presence of the Messenger of Court or a member of the police or advertisement of property sales as instructed by the courts in the 243/11 ruling. So on March 28, 2012 I made an affidavit (11481) opposing the sale of Stand 464."
He lost the case with costs when it was heard on April 24, 2012.
Catherine accused Lazarus of being arrogant.
"It's true that Lazarus and I had a relationship. He was my live-in boyfriend. He had misrepresented himself as a divorcee that is why I accepted him. It is me who actually brought him from Masvingo to Checheche. When he came here, my name was already on the council housing waiting list. Together, we applied for more stands. Our stands were allocated adjacent to each other. Since he had assumed the headship of my family, I entrusted him to do the planning and development of the property. He cannot consider this responsibility as change of ownership to my Stand 464," she said.
On why she left the property in the first place, Catherine said: "I discovered that my partner was married when his wife came to Checheche with her children. They disliked me and gave me a torrid moment. When I asked him to address the issue, he was very arrogant. He could not stop them from insulting and harassing me. The wife in particular, gave me many threats. I left the property to save my life. They could not let me take all my belongings the day I left. So to safeguard the belongings I had left, I asked Lucky Chikwanda to stay in the cottage. This didn't go well with Maravichi.
"I had the case transferred from Chipinge to Mutare because it was taking time to be settled following the mysterious death of a magistrate on a sitting at Chisumbanje. I needed instant justice, so I requested for the transfer. Maravichi was misleading people in the community claiming that I hired people to attack him. I wanted the courts to prove my innocence. He is the one who actually started the attacks and my relatives responded in self defence. The courts sentenced him five times for assault.
"The 243/11 ruling had eviction orders which Lazarus breached. Seeing that he didn't want to comply with court rulings, on November 14, 2011 I tried to take my belongings from the cottage with the help of my brother Vuso, Chikwanda and uncle Courage, but Lazarus turned violent once again. I managed to collect a few things, but not his driver's licence.
“To end this whole thing, I decided to sell the property on March 20, 2012. That is why the Mafa couple from Chiredzi bought it. Before the Mafas came in, Lazarus had put his own tenants in the Stand 464 cottage to block the new owners. He was given another eviction order which he is still disobeying to date. As I speak, we are expected to appear in court again with Lazarus answering to contempt of court charges.
"To me Lazarus is being arrogant to stop me from claiming my share of the property on stands 462 and 463. I contributed to their development, so I should get a share in addition to my 464 property."