A top Bulawayo businessman is embroiled in a messy property scandal that has drawn in the deputy sheriff of the High Court who is accused of conducting a sham auction that allegedly prejudiced a local woman.
The woman, Naome Thakataka, has approached the Bulawayo High Court seeking to reverse the transfer of her Hillside house to Mohammed Zakariya Patel.
Patel, who owns Toppers, bought Thakataka’s house through an auction conducted by the sheriff of the High Court after it was attached in 2018 over a US$29 920 debt to Solusi University.
The house was sold to the businessman for $76 000 after the sheriff said he was the highest bidder.
In court papers, Thakataka said her house was transferred to a “non-existent company” known as Summergate Investments (Private) Limited.
She said the house, which is located in a “sought-after area”, was sold at an unreasonably low price yet there was a buyer who at the time wanted to pay $90 000,00.
In the court application, Thakataka, who is represented by Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, cited the deputy sheriff of the High Court, Patel, Summergate Investments, Solusi University and the Registrar of Deeds as first, second, third, fourth and fifth respondents, respectively.
She said Solusi University attached the house, which was sold to Patel on March 23, 2018.
Thakataka subsequently challenged the sale but lost the case. She said it had since emerged that the auction was conducted in fraudulent manner.
“After the dismissal of HC 1664/18, what followed next clearly shows that 1st respondent and 2nd respondent acted fraudulently,” Thakataka argues in the court papers.
She said the deputy sheriff had since written a letter backdated to May 31 2018 where he “purports to award the property to Summergate Investments (Private) Limited.”
“Again, there is a company resolution dated 30th May 2018 issued by the directors of Summergate Investments (Pvt) Limited authorising the company to purchase property from an auction,” Thakataka argues.
“The lie is that Summergate Investments did not exist on the 30th of May 2018.
“Summergate Investments (Private) Limited was incorporated on the 18th of June 2018. The misrepresentation did not stop there.”
She added: “In fact, the conduct of the first respondent, as a judicial officer, to backdate and amend court documents, must be frowned upon by this court,” the applicant bemoaned.
“How a judicial officer can misrepresent on oath, that on the 23rd of March 2018 he sold a property to a non-existent company, is baffling.
“In fact, the conduct of the first respondent to amend court documents, after issuance must be frowned upon by this court.”
Thakataka said the deputy sheriff had lied about the outcome of the auction.
“The sheriff clearly misled and misrepresented to me as is evidenced by this new letter,” she said.
“The above clearly demonstrates that the auction process was a sham and the 1st-3rd respondents held a facade.
“The sheriff as a judicial officer must not be a party to such.
“The sheriff himself conducted a hearing in which the 2nd respondent was present.
“There was and has never been a Summergate Investments (Private) Limited all this time.”
Thakataka wants the outcome of the auction set aside.
“Had I known, I would have challenged Summergate Investments as the highest bidder,” she said.
“However, the truth as appears on the papers is that Summergate never existed before, during and after the auction.
“In the premises, I submit that the entire transfer is tainted with fraud and must be set aside on that basis alone and the auction process be re-done in a clear and transparent manner.”