More than 300 people who lost their houses to businessman Frank Buyanga after failing to repay loans, might recover their properties following a Supreme Court ruling that the sale of the residences to third parties is illegal.
The ruling was handed down as lawyers representing the property owners were preparing to institute private prosecutions against Buyanga.
Suspended Prosecutor-General Mr Johannes Tomana, using his discretion, declined to prosecute Buyanga on allegations of defrauding the property owners.
But the NPA succumbed to pressure recently and issued the group of complainants with a certificate to institute private prosecutions against Buyanga.
Buyanga extended loans of varying amounts to over 300 people who were not asked to sign loan agreements but to sign agreements of sale for their houses as security.
The debtors were asked to surrender the title deeds to their properties and when they failed to settle the debts, Buyanga sold the properties to third parties without the consent of the owners.
One of the debtors, Ms Margaret Marume, who owed Buyanga $30 000, had her Greengrove house sold to a Harare couple for $60 000 without her knowledge. She believes her property is worth $150 000.
Ms Marume won her case at the High Court where Justice November Mtshiya nullified the sale.
Mr Pearson Mzilikazi and his wife Mrs Yvonne Mzilikazi, who bought the house, appealed against the High Court judgment.
Yesterday Justice Bharat Patel, sitting with Justices Elizabeth Gwaunza and Chinembiri Bhunu, threw out the appeal and confirmed that the transactions by Buyanga’s firm were fraught with illegalities. Justice Patel upheld the decision of the High Court that nullified the transaction.
The courtroom was full to capacity as interested parties who lost their properties under similar transactions came to hear the appeal.
Some of the “victims” could be seen celebrating the ruling from their wheelchairs.
Advocate Lewis Uriri, who appeared for Ms Marume, told The Herald that the judgment in his client’s favour had a bearing on hundreds of property owners who lost their houses to Buyanga.
“This means all the people who lost their properties in the same way will now have to recover them.
“The third parties who purchased the properties illegally from Gutu Properties will have to recover their money from Mr Buyanga,” he said.
It was the court’s finding that the sale of the immovable property was effected in the absence of a Capital Gains Tax clearance certificate and that the property owner had no intention to sell.
It was the court’s finding that the Power of Attorney document used in the sale of the woman’s property was falsified. In the supplementary heads filed by Ms Marume’s lawyer, Advocate Uriri, it was argued that the property was sold in the absence of the property owner.
Ms Marume, the court heard, did not witness the crafting of the Power of Attorney authorising transfer of the property. She was not present when the agreement of sale and declaration by seller were concluded.
The court heard that the transaction was fraudulent as it was effected without payment of Capital Gains Tax.