Arundel woes: One lawyer looms large

HARARE - A prominent law firm behind a botched February raid on listed banking group BancABC’s vaults has once again emerged as central to Arundel Spar’s woes and eviction on Friday.

Jonathan Samukange, a senior partner at Venturas and Samukange, said the action — where bailiffs threw out the Innscor Africa (Innscor)-owned grocer’s stock — had to be taken after the northern suburbs operator had fallen back on rentals to the tune of $63 000.

“As far as I understand… Arundel Spar owed $63 000 as at 2 April, 2013 and the lease was terminated on April 13,” he told the Daily News by telephone, adding the Simex (Private) Limited (Simex) tenant had lost cases at both the High and Supreme Court.

With John Travlos’ Simex owning the upscale business centre, the parties had a lease arrangement where the Innscor-run store or shop paid the former a base fee of $18 000 plus two percent of revenue per month.

However, the agreement seems to have run into problems as Zimbabwe’s economy — including its retail sector — continues to struggle and Samukange hinted the lessee eviction was irreversible as the process was “on-going”, and they were “moving out now”.

On Friday, Spar’s corporate retail head Andrew Divaris said on the group’s Facebook page: “We made every effort to remain open, this has unfortunately not transpired.”

“…regrettably (we have) had to close our store due to an ongoing dispute with our landlord,” he said, adding negotiations with the Travlos family business Simex had irretrievably failed or broken down.

“We will be in touch with you in due course — please be patient with us while we work through this, as it will take at least a week to process the transfers,” Divaris advised the shop’s loyalty club members.

He said they were “already working through alternatives”.

About four months ago, the Harare-based attorneys hogged the limelight after one of its clients Mackie Diamonds BVBA of Belgium had clashed with BancABC over a $10 million debt.

In that episode, the firm’s assistants and court messengers raided the listed financial group’s Mount Pleasant offices in an attempt to seize cars and other property, in an ordeal lasting over four hours.

However, the actions were later stopped by a Supreme Court order and ruling. - Eric Chiriga, Business Editor

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