By Thandeka Moyo
BULAWAYO – Three senior lawyers at Cheda and Partners law firm in Bulawayo were yesterday suspended as a forensic audit report opened a can of worms.
The law firm was put under curatorship in February pending fraud investigations and the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) appointed Advocate Perpetual Dube as the curator up to today.
At the time senior partners, Sindiso Mazibisa and Mlamuli Ncube voluntarily surrendered their practising certificates to the LSZ to pave way for the investigations after the former allegedly defrauded a local businessman, Titus Ncube of $350,000 in a mine deal.
High Court Judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha yesterday granted an urgent chamber application by the LSZ to suspend Mazibisa, Ncube and Nqobizitha Ndlovu from practising law in the country until 15 May 2015.
Ndlovu is suspended because he is accused of interfering with the curator’s duties.
The LSZ cited among other reasons that the audit report shows about $415, 637 was not receipted, trust funds were abused and that Ndlovu was interfering with the curator in her duties.
Justice Kamocha granted the application which will also see the curatorship period extended to May 15.
LSZ executive secretary Wilbert Mundinde said Advocate’s Dube report had unmasked a lot of irregularities.
“The curator noted that there exists abuse of funds at Cheda, there is no system of accounting to clients and that there is no accountability by individual legal practitioners,” he said in his founding affidavit.
“The audit report noted that about $415, 637 was not receipted, $241, 857 supporting documents were missing and that receipt books were unaccounted for.”
Mundinde also said Ndlovu had heavily interfered with Advocate Dube’s mandate, at one point collecting a back-up disc with financial information of the firm without the curator’s approval.
“The audit report also shows that Cheda partners allowed an unregistered person to sign on the trust account. It will be just and equitable if such charges can be put to Ndlovu, Mazibisa and Ncube,” said Mundinde.
“The curator once requested bank reconciliations, bank statements, a list of trust creditors to enable a more detailed report on the financial status of the law firm at present. This information has not been supplied for end of January or end of February and accounts personnel at Cheda clear any requests of the curator with Ndlovu.”
He added that there were two identified law firms which were tampering with the curator’s work in terms of accepting flighted files without due process.
The trio will have to apply to the LSZ when they decide to resume practising. The Chronicle