Top lawyer sucked in mine wrangle
By Auxilia Katongomara
BULAWAYO lawyer Sindiso Mazibisa — currently suspended from practice — has been sucked in a gold mine wrangle in Filabusi.
Mazibisa, a senior partner at the Cheda & Partners law firm which has been placed under voluntary curatorship to allow investigations into alleged malpractices by the Law Society of Zimbabwe, took shareholding in a disputed gold mine in exchange for legal representation.
Mazibisa owns two percent shareholding at Eric 21 mine operating under the name, Triniac Investments.
Initially, Israelis Reoven Meyer Dray and Avi Habot were in a partnership with a Filabusi couple, Nqobile Khumalo and Francisca Mufambi, who now claim that their partners later ditched them and roped in Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa and Mazibisa.
Khumalo and Mufambi say they are in the process of instituting contempt of court proceedings against Langa, Mazibisa and the other shareholders for interfering with operations at the mine after obtaining a High Court order enforcing their claim to the mine.
Their Harare-based lawyer, Norman Mugiya, told Chronicle that Mazibisa’s conduct was unprofessional.
“It isn’t procedural for a lawyer to benefit from a case other than through legal fees because there will be a conflict of interest,” said Mugiya.
He said they did not recognise Mazibisa’s shareholding in the mine, claiming he got the shares fraudulently.
“His ownership in the company is as fraudulent as Langa’s and others because it was through the back door, they’re non-starters because they are foreigners,” said Mugiya.
Triniac Investments Managing director Oliver Chikarara said: “Mazibisa is our legal practitioner and as a company we decided to rope him in so that we don’t pay for legal fees when we need representation. He has a two percent stake in the company.”
Yesterday, Mazibisa insisted he had done nothing wrong.
“Yes, I’m part of that company, I’m a businessman. There’s nothing unlawful with me being a shareholder. It’s my legitimate right to run a business,” said Mazibisa.
He said Mufambi and Khumalo were “fraudsters” who had been booted out of the mine through a company resolution and were no longer part of the company.
“Those guys are the fraudsters, they want to defraud foreign investors yet they didn’t put a single cent in the mine and even lied that they’ve mining claims. Actually the mine is located at Senator Naison Khutshwekhaya’s farm. He’s also a director of this company,” he said.
Law Society of Zimbabwe secretary Edward Mapara said he could not comment on an individual case, but said there was a standard procedure in the legal fraternity.
“Ordinarily a client pays legal fees which are then deposited into trust funds, that’s the standard procedure,” said Mapara.
Chikarara on Wednesday said they were forced to change their lawyer after a High Court judge queried why Mazibisa had handed in an urgent chamber application seeking to reverse an order for Langa and his partners to stop operations at the mine, when he had voluntarily surrendered his practising certificate.
Nqobizitha Ndlovu from Mazibisa’s law firm is the company’s new lawyer.
Mazibisa and his partner, Mlamuli Ncube, voluntarily surrendered their practising certificates to the Law Society of Zimbabwe pending a forensic audit at their law firm, Cheda and Partners.
The firm has since been placed under voluntary curatorship by order of the Bulawayo High Court and the LSZ appointed Advocate Perpetua Dube as the curator of the law firm until March 31 when the audit results are expected. The Chronicle