By Tendai Kamhungira
The government-owned mobile firm NetOne Cellular (Private) Limited (NetOne) has dragged its former chief executive officer Reward Kangai to the High Court seeking to evict him from one of its properties following the termination of his contract of employment in 2016.
According to court papers, Kangai was granted occupation and use of the company’s house at Number 31 Shottery Road, Greystone Park, Harare, during the duration of his employment contract.
The government-owned mobile firm NetOne paid Kangai $247 000 following the termination of his employment contract.
Kangai was sent on forced leave in March 2016 after the company’s board sanctioned a forensic audit into the affairs of the country’s second largest mobile phone operator.
He was suspended from work without pay and benefits on October 3, 2016 after an external auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers completed a board-sanctioned probe into the goings-on at the mobile phone operator.
“The employment contract expired by effluxion of time on June 30, 2017. Defendant (Kangai) had in any event been paid out the entire salaries and benefits attendant to this contract amounting to $227 597, 68.
“Defendant has, despite being given due notice to vacate the said property remained in occupation without plaintiff’s (NetOne) authority and without paying any consideration. Consequently, plaintiff has been deprived use and enjoyment of its property and continues to suffer holding damages in the amount of $3 000, being the fair rental return for same on the open market,” the court heard.
In its court papers, NetOne said Kangai has no basis to continue occupying its property.
Responding to the application, Kangai said that he occupied the said house in August 2006 in terms of a prior contract of employment.
He argued he was entitled to a housing allowance and the benefit of occupying the said premises.
“The defendant effectively paid for the house in question and the defendant claims transfer of ownership of the property into his name or, alternatively damages in lieu of transfer of ownership,” Kangai said.
He further said that even if he was supposed to vacate the premises upon termination of his employment contract, he argued he was unlawfully dismissed, such that he continues to enjoy rights in terms of his contract.
“The defendant has brought the lawlessness of the termination before the Labour Tribunal in terms of the Labour Act and therefore, the defendant raised a plea of lis pendens (a pending legal action, or a formal notice of one). It is denied that the defendant breached the employment contract between the plaintiff and the defendant. In fact, it is the plaintiff who has breached the implied terms of the employment contract by humiliating and violating the professional status and reputation of the defendant,” he said.
He, however, made a claim in reconvention, demanding $2 million from NetOne for allegedly maligning him through press reports to the effect that the management led by him owned a company that was used to siphon money from the mobile network provider.
He said the statements issued by NetOne employees in newspapers, portrayed him as dishonest, incompetent and fraudulent employee.
“The statements were maliciously made to injure the good name and reputation of the defendant and to subsequently justify the termination of his employment contract.
“The defendant suffered loss of income and benefits as a result of the defamatory statements and actions of the plaintiff to an extent that his employment prospects have greatly diminished,” the court heard.
The High Court is still to make a determination on the matter. DailyNews