Christ Embassy in messy rentals row

HARARE - Star Africa has been locked in a legal battle with its tenant Christ Embassy after the church allegedly breached a lease agreement compelling it to pay rentals worth $1 495 before the first of every month.

Star Africa operates as a holding company with interest in providing food, beverages and logistics services but its main line of business is sugar refining. Its products include icing sugar, honey, maple, and toffee syrup.

The company was founded in 1935 and is headquartered in Harare, where it is leasing out one of its properties to the church.

The court heard that on November 10, 2017, Star Africa issued summons against Christ Embassy for the payment of $37 470,76 being outstanding rentals, utility and electricity bills.

Representing Christ Embassy, Tom Marongwe told the court the church entered an appearance to defend and the matter was set down for pre-trial conference on September 26, 2018 before Justice Hungwe.

“The pre-trial conference was postponed to allow the parties to find common ground and perhaps settle the matter,” Marongwe said.

“On the pre-trial conference continuation held October 17 the parties advised the honourable judge that they found common ground and were settling the matter. The matter was then postponed to October 24 2018 at 1200 hours for parties to submit signed copies of the deed of settlement.”

However, the court heard that the church’s lawyers prepared the draft deed of settlement, but mis-diarised the matter for 1230 hours instead of 1200 hours.

The applicant’s legal practitioners missed the court session and afterwards made a phone call to Star Africa Corporation’s lawyers who advised that a default judgment had been obtained.

The applicant then wrote a letter to the respondent’s lawyers justifying why the court session had been missed.

“Applicant has a plausible explanation for its default. I am satisfied by the explanation given by the applicant’s legal practitioners which I believe is a genuine mistake.

“Applicant has immediately proceeded to make this application for rescission of default judgment,” Marongwe said.

The Christ Embassy Church Zimbabwe has applied for a rescission of a default judgment obtained by its landlord Star Africa Corporation over $37 000 rental arrears.

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