High Court okays application for joinder in Shah, Equity feud

HARARE - High Court judge Nyaradzo Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa yesterday allowed an application by Paul Upenyu Esau Chidawanyika to join proceedings in which businessman Jayesh Shah’s company Al Shams Global has approached the High Court seeking to quash a court ruling forcing him to surrender to Equity Properties (Pvt) Ltd, title deeds to land earmarked for residential properties.

Christopher Takura Tande is the founder and executive chairperson of Equity Properties (Pvt) Ltd, which is currently developing the investment property at Lot 3 of Bannockburn into a residential suburb called the Golden CT suburb.

The area consists of residential and commercial stands.

Equity Properties (Pvt) Ltd offered its Lot 3 of Bannockburn land to Interfin as collateral to enable it to get a $2,2 million loan. Interfin closed in June 2012 due to a liquidity crisis. 

Equity Properties had sold more than 300 stands at Lot 3 of Bannockburn to home-seekers, which land was encumbered by the loan.

Shah's company acquired a stake in Interfin through a loan it had advanced to the bank.

Al Shams Global then seized Equity Properties' title deeds and Bankers Acceptances unlawfully from Interfin, it is alleged, during the time the bank's assets were being liquidated to pay creditors. Tande said he did not consent to the surrender of his title deeds to Shah by the bank.

Equity repaid the $2,2m loan in full, but Shah refused to surrender the title deeds to him.

Equity then approached the High Court, and obtained an order to enable him to start the process to attach Shah’s properties to recover the money he repaid to the bank.

The court granted Equity Properties leave to serve summons and a declaration in respect of its claims for vindication of its property and attendant delictual damages against Al Shams Global.

This was after Tande had successfully argued that Interfin had his title deeds in its possession and breached an agreement to hand them over promptly on demand, to keep them safe and not to hand them over to a third party without his consent as has happened.

Shah is now seeking to rescind that judgment, citing peregrinus — a law that does not allow locals to sue a foreigner or a person not domiciled or resident in Zimbabwe.

Shah in his application for rescission of judgment argued that the court must not take on itself the adjudication of a dispute if, at the end of the proceedings, it would be unable to enforce its judgment.

Shah’s argument has outraged the 300 home-seekers who were set to get title deeds to their stands.

Chidawanyika, who bought residential stand number 2148 of Lot 3 of Bannockburn, was allowed to join Tande as an additional party into the proceedings, where Shah is seeking to stop the attachment of his properties by Tande.

He lodged a standard form witness statement which he said should be taken into account in proceedings for a financial remedy by Equity.

Justice Munangati-Manongwa ruled in chambers yesterday that there was a good arguable case against Shah, after considering arguments pitched by Chidawanyika relating to peregrinus, that it was unconstitutional under the new charter adopted in May 2013.

The judge asked Shah to respond to the issues raised by Chidawanyika, who asked the court to stop the Indian businessman, whom he likened to the Guptas in South Africa,  who are at the centre of graft and influence-peddling allegations surrounding Jacob Zuma, who was forced from office last month by the ruling African National Congress.

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