A Bulawayo man allegedly faked the death of a South Africa-based businessman and fraudulently took ownership of his farm in Umguza District, Matabeleland North, through a court order.
Zephaniah Matiwaza (69) of Rosebank Farm in Umguza entered into an agreement of sale with Mr Colin Ian Venables of Roslee Farm in Umguza who is now based in South Africa.
According to the agreement, the price of the farm was US$25 000 and Matiwaza paid a deposit of US$10 000 through Mr Venables’ lawyers Coghlan and Welsh Legal Practitioners.
In terms of the memorandum of agreement, the parties agreed that the agreement of sale is subject to the parties obtaining a certificate of no present interest which is issued by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement.
In terms of the Land Acquisition Act, a certificate of no present interest in relation to any rural land is a written statement by the Lands Minister indicating that the President has no intention to acquire the land in question for the time being.
The agreement stated that in the event that the certificate was not acquired by August 30, 2009, the agreement of sale would fall away and be null and void.
Matiwaza failed to pay the remainder on an agreed date resulting in the cancellation of the agreement. Through his lawyers, he is alleged to have then fraudulently transferred the farm into his name under deed of transfer 71/2019.
This was after Matiwaza had faked Mr Venables’ death.
This emerged when Matiwaza appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Rachel Mukanga facing perjury charges as defined in terms of section 183 of the Criminal Law (Reform and Codification) Act.
He was remanded out of custody to December 13 for commencement of trial.
Prosecuting, Mr Dominic Moyo said sometime in 2009, Matiwaza signed a memorandum of agreement with Mr Venables to purchase sub-division 3 of subdivision A of Imbesu Kraal also known as Roslee Farm.
The court heard that Matiwaza paid US$10 000 deposit on the understanding that he would pay the outstanding balance by September 30, 2009 as stipulated in the agreement of sale. He failed to meet the conditions of the agreement.
In December 2015, a local businessman Mr Dumisani Sibanda signed a memorandum of agreement to buy the same property.
He met the terms of condition of the agreement and was given a certificate of no present interest by the Lands Ministry.
This prompted Matiwaza to approach the High Court challenging the new arrangement under case number HC1113/18.
During the civil proceedings, Matiwaza allegedly made a sworn statement under oath alleging that Mr Venables had died.
He then filed a sworn statement under HC1333/18 demanding a security deposit of US$15 000 in lieu of legal fees to be lodged with the Registrar of the High Court alleging the Mr Venables had died. A default judgement was ruled in his favour.
Mr Venables through his agent Mr Sege Rene Finch then responded by filing an application for rescission of the fraudulently obtained order transferring the property to Matiwaza.
The court heard that despite evidence having been produced in court to prove that Mr Venables was still alive, Matiwaza went ahead with the court proceedings behind the back of Mr Venables’ lawyers resulting in him clandestinely obtaining a default judgment as an unopposed matter.
“Had the accused person’s lawyers advised Venables’ lawyers, he would have alerted the court of the perjured statement being used to obtain an order fraudulently,” said Mr Moyo.
The matter was reported to the police leading to Matiwaza’s arrest. -Chronicle