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Fraudster lawyer ordered to pay victim $25 000

By Mashudu Netsianda

THE High Court has ordered Bulawayo lawyer Tungamirai Nyengera to pay back $25 000 to a home seeker he defrauded in a botched housing deal. 

Nyengera forged title deeds and sold a house in Bellevue suburb he did not own to Mr Bvumazvipere Siwawa. He was employed at Shenje and Company.

Nyengera, who currently doesn’t hold a practising licence, was in 2014 convicted of fraud following his connivance with a prison guard to unlawfully release a convict.

The ruling by Justice Maxwell Takuva follows summons filed at the Bulawayo High Court by Mr Siwawa citing Nyengera, Bradley Brunt who allegedly purported to be the owner of the property, Herbert Shenje and his law firm, Shenje and Company, as defendants.

Justice Takuva delivered a default judgment after Nyengera failed to enter an appearance to defend the summons within the stipulated period.

“A default judgment be and hereby entered against first defendant (Nyengera) and he is ordered to pay plaintiff the sum of $25 000,” ruled the judge.

Nyengera was also ordered to pay the money with five percent interest calculated from the date of summons to the date of full and final payment.Brunt allegedly connived with Nyengera to swindle Mr Siwawa from Emganwini suburb by selling him a house they did not own for $50 000.

According to papers before the court, Brunt posed as the owner of the house and produced fake identity documents of the actual owner.

They sold the house to the unsuspecting Mr Siwawa who paid them $25 000 as down payment which gave him access to the house in the hope that the full payment was going to be completed within an agreed period.

Mr Siwawa said the sale was between himself and Brunt who purported to be the owner of the house.

“Prior to the signing of the agreement of sale, Shenje and Company through first defendant (Nyengera) were instructed to investigate and satisfy themselves as to the propriety of all the identification documents relating to the house and owner of the property,” he said.

Mr Siwawa said the law firm failed to conduct due diligence and ensure that nothing would hinder the transfer of rights of the property.

“After the signing of the documents, it turned out that the owner of the property, one Mr Charles Vicky Westerfalls, did not enter into any agreement of sale with plaintiff,” he said.

Mr Siwawa said after the agreement of sale, it emerged that Nyengera was in possession of fake title deeds.

Three other suspects linked to the fraud, together with Brunt, were arrested in July in connection with the scam.

These are Frank Matare (36), Sithabile Dlodlo (64) and Elphas Ncube.

When Brunt vanished, Mr Siwawa visited the property he had bought. He found the house being renovated and when he contacted the neighbours they told him that its owner stayed in Masvingo.

That is when Mr Siwawa reported the matter to the police leading to the suspects’ arrest.

Nyengera has since filed an application for the rescission of the judgment.

He argued that the summons issued under case number HC 2186/17 were wrongfully served at his former employer’s offices when he had already left the law firm.

“The respondent (Mr Siwawa) knew my residential address in Luveve 5 because he once visited my family sometime in July 2017 before the summons were issued. I ceased to be an employee of Shenje and Company in December 2014. I was not served with the summons neither was I informed by Mr Shenje on the existence of the summons,” said Nyengera.

He said he only got to know of the summons through a newspaper article. Nyengera disputed that he swindled Mr Siwawa of his money.

“Mr Siwawa and the purported owner of the house produced identity documents and I simply recorded their agreement in writing.

“The purported owner of the house also produced title deeds for the house and Mr Siwawa indicated that he had checked at the deeds office regarding the ownership of the house and visited the Bulawayo City Council and Zesa offices to verify,” he argued. The Chronicle