THE High Court will tomorrow hear a land dispute pitting businessman Ozias Bvute and Cephas Msipa Jnr, the son of the former Midlands governor.Bvute, the former Air Zimbabwe board chairman, wants the High Court to declare him the legal owner of Crowhill Farm in Borrowdale, Harare, which he says Msipa wants to wrest from him.
The matter will be heard before Justice Bhunu.
While suing for the return of the property at the High Court, Bvute has also filed a police complaint against Msipa for alleged fraud, his lawyer Tinashe Tanyanyiwa said.
The property is registered in the name of Crowhill Farm (Pvt) Ltd, the applicant in the matter. Crowhill Farm (Pvt) Ltd is owned by Bvute.
Msipa, Crowhill (Pvt) Ltd, Themba Hlongwane, the Registrar of Deeds and the Sheriff are cited as first, second, third, fourth and fifth respondents respectively.
The businessman alleges that Msipa acted fraudulently by subdividing the farm and disposing of stands without his knowledge through various estate agents including Africa Real Estate and Darwin Properties.
According to the court application, Msipa has never been part of Crowhill Farm (Pvt) Ltd. Msipa allegedly became involved with the company after he approached Bvute claiming that he could subdivide the farm as he had done at his Charlotte Brook Development.
The court documents say that the respondents subdivided some of the land and remitted 300 stands to Bvute’s company under the pretext that they were the only stands that had been subdivided.
A site visit showed that Msipa had actually subdivided 4,000 stands and concerted efforts to stop his actions failed.
Upon receiving title deeds to facilitate the subdivision of the farm, it is alleged that Msipa handed over the title deeds to his sister-in-law’s law firm, BM Msipa and Associates, who have been assisting him to “perpetrate this fraud against the applicant company”, court documents say.
Bvute said he intends to lodge a complaint with the Law Society of Zimbabwe over the conduct of the lawyers, whom he accuses of lying under oath.
Bvute says in an affidavit: “I am the owner of Crowhill Farm and myself and the other director never authorised Msipa to act in the manner in which he did. He was simply tasked to sub-divide the property and not to sell for his own gain. He misrepresented to me that he was sub dividing the stands whilst all along he has sold and parcelled out others in order to buy goodwill.”
Msipa allegedly doled out stands to several politicians, allegedly to buy favours.
To facilitate the alleged theft of the property, Msipa is said to have clandestinely registered a company called Crowhill (Pvt) Ltd as a subsidiary of Bvute’s Crowhill Farm (Pvt) Ltd.
A letter dated June 1, 2008, written by a Gilbert Chawada effected the registration of the purported subsidiary. Bvute said his company did not authorise the registration of the subsidiary but that Msipa and his cohorts registered the company as a vehicle to be used in their fraudulent activities. He said there is no connection between his Crowhill Farm (Pvt) Ltd and Msipa’s Crowhill (Pvt) Ltd.
“All I know of it is from the letter on page 18 of the notice of opposition where it is supposedly a subsidiary of Applicant Company,” said Bvute.
Bvute bought the farm from the Woodhouse family. The Woodhouse family is the original owner of Crowhill Farm (Pvt) Ltd which was registered with the Registrar of Companies in 1972.
The court application shows that the family sold the farm to Bvute and appointed him director of the company by virtue of the sale.
Thembinkosi Magwaliba, who represented Bvute when he purchased the farm, filed a supporting affidavit highlighting how the businessman acquired the property and the company.
In his opposing affidavit, Msipa wants the application to be dismissed. Last week, Msipa ran newspaper adverts announcing his resignation from the company and surrendering administration of the farm to Bvute.