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Widow faces eviction over late hubby’s alleged theft

A 50-year-old Bulawayo woman is embroiled in a legal battle with Higher Learning Centre, her late husband’s former employer following an eviction order issued against her by the High Court to vacate her matrimonial home.

Mrs Bester Dunduza
Mrs Bester Dunduza

The eviction order issued on 29 April 2010, follows an application by the institution’s executive director, Ms Rachiel Salu Castanheira to have the defendant, Mrs Bester Dunduza evicted from her property in Nkulumane 12 suburb that she shares with her four school going children.

According to documents in possession of Chronicle, Mrs Dunduza’s late husband, Richard together with Mr Tafara Chikati were implicated in a case of alleged theft and fraud involving R 351 784 belonging to their former employer.

Ms Castanheira accused the two men of stealing the money from her organisation. She withdrew the charges against the two following the death of Mr Dunduza. In her affidavit, Ms Castanheira noted that it would be a waste of time to pursue the matter since the alleged main culprit had died.

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According to court records, the fraud and theft case against Richard Dunduza and Tafara Chikati was withdrawn on 1 June 2011 at the complainant’s instance. Ms Castanheira argued that given those circumstances the other defendant would not have a case to answer.

“I am a witness who reported a case whereby the second defendant (Tafara Chikati) is answerable to one count out of six counts of theft and fraud.

“I notice that it will be a waste of time to pursue this case since the first defendant who was the main culprit (Richard Dunduza) has passed away. The second defendant will not bear the responsibility of being accountable,” she said.

However, Ms Castanheira through her lawyers, Lazarus and Sarif Legal Practitioners later approached the courts seeking redress and the High Court granted her an eviction order against Mrs Dunduza.

The Plaintiff in the matter is Luckbeck Investment (Pvt) Ltd trading as Higher Learning Centre while the defendant is Bester Dunduza and those claiming occupation through her.

Part of the summons issued to Mrs Dunduza who is the defendant in the case, read: “The Plaintiff’s claim against the defendant is for an order for her eviction and those claiming occupation through her for House Number 9469 Nkulumane, Bulawayo. The property has been attached and put up for sale by the Deputy Sheriff in execution of an order of this Honourable Court granted on 29 April 2010 and this defendant has no lawful right to remain in occupation of and has frustrated the disposal of the said property.”

The defendant’s late husband was employed as a lecturer by Ms Castanheira. He died on 14 May 2010 and the writ of execution was issued on 7 May 2010 and served to Mrs Dunduza three days after the death of her husband.

The Deputy Sheriff mandated Bulawayo Real Estate to dispose of the property by private treaty. Contacted for comment, Ms Castanheira denied that she withdrew the charges. She said Mrs Dunduza and those occupying the house frustrated the sale of the property by chasing away prospective buyers.

“Mrs Dunduza insults prospective purchasers and has even resorted to violence to stop them from viewing the property. As a plaintiff I can only enforce the order of this Honourable Court after the defendant and all those claiming occupation through her are evicted from Stand Number 9469 Nkulumane, Bulawayo.

“Wherefore I pray for an order that the defendant and those claiming occupation through her be evicted forthwith from the house and pay costs of suit on an attorney client scale,” said Ms Castanheira.

She also claimed that the house at the centre of controversy was attached three weeks before the death of Mr Dunduza.

“I am even more determined to fight and win this battle until this house is sold because Mr Dunduza stole my money and the only way to recover part of that money is through selling the property,” said Ms Castanheira.

According to the summary judgment (HC 1841/13) issued by Justice Lawrence Kamocha, the applicant was granted an eviction order against Mrs Dunduza and all those occupying the house.

Mrs Dunduza has since entered an appearance to defend the move by the High Court. She is, however, appealing for assistance from well wishers to raise money to meet legal costs.

“I am in a state of dilemma because my late husband’s former employer is evicting me and my children from our house because of allegations of theft and fraud against my husband who died before the case was finalised.

“This is injustice and I am now appealing for legal assistance from well-wishers so that I secure a lawyer as Ms Castanheira is now taking advantage of my lack of knowledge of legal issues, I can’t afford legal costs as I am a poor widow,” she said. The Chronicle