Attorney accused of forging client signature

HARARE - A city attorney has been accused of forging his client’s signatures on legal documents in a child support row.

Tafadzwa Hungwe of Venturas and Samukange law firm is alleged to have forged his client’s signature on maintenance documents and represented that the signatures belonged to the client.

Ray Tsvakwi of Chinyama and Partners on Friday accused Hungwe of engaging in professional misconduct in his handling of clients’ documents.

Tsvakwi made the allegations in court while representing a Harare businessman, Petros Chaponda, who had been hauled before the Harare Civil Court by his ex-girlfriend Tessie Billie, represented by Tsvakwi, for failing to support his minor child.

Tsvakwi said the signature on Billie’s application did not match that on her supporting affidavit.

“The signature on the maintenance application and the signature on the supporting affidavit are different,” Tsvakwi said. “We believe the applicant’s legal practitioner forged the legal documents in order to further his client’s case.”

The client’s signature is affixed beneath a declaration that the contents of the legal document are accurate.

The clients had not signed the printed copies of the pleadings and had not reviewed the documents or authorised Hungwe to sign them, according to Tsvakwi. At least one of the pleadings was not factually accurate.

Tsvakwi claimed the commissioner of oaths, Advocate Julia Hood, who commissioned the documents, was employed by Billie’s legal team.

Hungwe strenuously denied the allegations, arguing that the document was his rough piece of paper which he used to draft the breakdown of the maintenance money claimed by his client.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe imposes sanctions on attorneys who are accused of engaging in professional misconduct and violating the state ethics law.

Billie had demanded $1 600 in child support, and accused her former boyfriend of lying about his marriage status. She said she only discovered that Chaponda was married after giving birth.

Chaponda, the court heard, owns a gold mine in Shamva, a diamond mine in Chiadzwa, a manufacturing company in Graniteside called Euromoz, a panel beating company in Chitungwiza and a farm.

Billie told the court that Chaponda is also a director of a branding company called Harmony Brands Zimbabwe.

Chaponda, who owns a fleet of top-of-the range vehicles worth over $250 000 including a Mercedes Benz and a Toyota Hilux, was ordered by magistrate Gamuchirai Siwardi to pay $560 in child support.

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