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Businessman on the Brink of Losing $1.5M Mansion

A prominent Harare businessman, Tendai Mashamhanda, is facing the imminent loss of his $1.5 million mansion after a Supreme Court judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, dismissed his case opposing eviction. Mashamhanda had purchased the property for $230,000 from Harare lawyer Pihwai Chiutsi, but the High Court later ruled that the sale was fraudulent and ordered his eviction.

The dismissal of Mashamhanda’s case has raised concerns about Justice Bhunu’s impartiality, as the businessman had previously demanded his resignation over the mishandling of the High Court proceedings. Mashamhanda cited Section 14 of the Judicial Service (Code of Ethics) Regulations, which states that a judicial officer should recuse themselves from any proceedings where their impartiality may reasonably be questioned.

In his judgment, Justice Bhunu acknowledged this concern but defended his decision to preside over the application, stating that it was an enforcement proceeding related to the Supreme Court judgment he had previously participated in. He cited legal precedent to support his position that the court has the inherent power to control its process.

Justice Bhunu’s lengthy judgment emphasized that Mashamhanda had unlawfully occupied the property for nearly five years and that the law was heavily weighted against him. He concluded that Mashamhanda’s prospects of success on appeal were unlikely and that the equities and balance of convenience favored the respondent, who should ordinarily be in possession of the property. Due to Mashamhanda’s unjust and unconscionable conduct, the judge found no reasonable excuse for him to retain the property without consent.

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In light of the judgment, Gill Godlontonn and Gerranns, Lawyers of Baliade Investment, who seek to take over Mashamhanda’s home, have written to the Sheriff of the High Court requesting the businessman’s eviction. Interestingly, the letter is dated the same day as the judgment, raising suspicions that the lawyers had prior knowledge of the ruling.

The High Court judgment delivered in November ordered Mashamhanda’s eviction from his home, known as 41 Ridgeway North, Highlands, Harare. However, Mashamhanda lodged an urgent appeal to the Supreme Court, seeking a stay of execution of the judgment. This appeal has now been dismissed by Justice Bhunu.

In his appeal, Mashamhanda argued that the eviction order should be suspended until the Supreme Court hears and determines his appeal against the entire High Court judgment. He invoked Section 74 of the Constitution, which prohibits eviction without considering all relevant circumstances.

Despite Mashamhanda’s arguments, Justice Bhunu rejected his appeal application. The businessman had also complained to Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi in a letter, dated November 6, 2023, outlining six points that allegedly prove there was no auction prior to his purchase of the house.

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