By Daniel Nemukuyu
There is a growing row in sorting out the estate of late businessman and socialite Genius Kadungure with his family reluctant to surrender the top-of-the range Lamborgini vehicle bequeathed to someone called “Kit Kat” in the unsigned will filed with the Master of High Court with the wrangle now leading to a family decision to contest the will.
The family have now hired their own lawyers to fight the executor and to try and overturn the will.
If the will is regarded as invalid, then Kadungure would have died intestate and all his estate, after debts were paid, would be distributed according to common law, which means in his case to some members of his family.
According to the unsigned will, accepted by the Master of Court at the end of last year as a valid expression of how Kadungure wanted his estate distributed in the event of his death, the vehicle now becoming the centrepiece of the row between executor and family was bequeathed to a person called “Kit-Kat”. Up to now, no one has produced an identity card showing that name.
However, a man called Nomatter Zinyengere, who was a friend to the late Kadungure, has written to the executor and the family claiming to be “Kit Kat” and demanding immediate release of the vehicle to him.
The executor was quick to publish a notice in the Press inviting interested parties to inspect the initial distribution account, which does include the proposed transfer of the vehicle to Zinyengere, and submit any objections.
The standard three weeks for such inspection were the last three weeks of February but the Master of High Court’s office is shut down during the level four national lockdown.
The Press notice published on February 5 this year reads: “Notice is hereby given that the First Interim liquidation and or distribution account in the above estate (Genius Kadungure) will lie for inspection for a period of 21 days as from the 5th day of February 2021 at the office of the Master of High Court, Harare. Should no objections be lodged with the Master of High Court within the period of inspection, payments will be made in accordance therewith . . . ”
But it appears that this distribution account, normally filed at the Master’s office before publication of the notice,
had not been formally filed, possibly because the same office closure meant that there was no one available to record it being handed in.
The Kadungure family is now becoming disenchanted with the executor, saying they accepted the unsigned will and the appointment of Ms. Patricia Darangwa while not thinking fully because of their bereavement.
An executor’s role is clearly defined. They have to track down all assets of the estate, give those owed money by the late person the opportunity to claim any debts and find those who owed the late person money or assets to hand those over. They then implement the desires of the late person as expressed in the will, although the law requires the Master of the High Court to modify these to ensure that those who were supported by the late person continue to be supported by the estate, with a cut off point for children, and that any surviving spouse has a lifetime right to occupy the matrimonial home, or an agreed alternative.
This does not necessarily change the distribution of assets, but can ensure that income and occupation rights are preserved.
Frequently families dislike, and sometimes dispute, wills that leave assets to people or others outside the family. But once the basic support for those entitled to financial support are sorted out, a person can leave their property to whom they wish. The will usually names an executor, or lays down how the executor is chosen.
Ms. Darangwa reportedly authored the will and the family now feels she pressed them to accept the will and her appointment although the late Kadungure had not appended his signature to it.
And an executor is expected to move rapidly and finalise all transfer of assets as quickly as possible and not leave the estate in limbo for very long.
The family feels that the necessary verifications of the identity of “Kit Kat” are incomplete. On January 14 this year, Shomwe Nyakuedzwa Attorneys, on behalf of Mr. Zinyengere, wrote to the executor seeking the release of the vehicle.
“Our client is keen to have his inheritance released from the residue of the estate and is requesting that same be done through the first interim distribution account, a copy of which we are also requesting to inspect.
“Furthermore, our client is willing to pay the estate liabilities and related costs for his inheritance and to that end may you kindly issue us an invoice for settlement,” reads the letter. A person believing that they are the beneficiary of an asset in a will has these rights.
The Kadungure family was unhappy, prompting the executor to issue the Press invitation for inspection of the first distribution account.
Ms. Darangwa also wrote to the lawyers of the late businessman, Venturas & Samkange, seeking assistance for the release of other vehicles held by the police at Commercial Crimes Department.
But now the family have hired their own lawyers, Ushewokunze Law Chambers, to contest the will, with the proposed transfer of the vehicle being the trigger,
Soon after the death of the businessman, Ms. Darangwa is said to have met the family and influenced them to accept the will.
In their letter to Ms. Darangwa, the family lawyers said: “We are instructed that before, and in the morning of November 25, 2020, you (Ms. Darangwa) unduly influenced the family to accept the ‘will’ and threatened that if the family chose to reject the will and your executorship, they would have tarnished your reputation as a lawyer and you were prepared to sue them and subject the estate to unwanted delays even all the way up to the Supreme Court.
“Our further instructions are that you in the same vein, attempted to placate the family by dangling an offer or arrangement that the family should unanimously recommend your executorship in terms of the will, and in the aftermath of such appointment, you were going to sign a special power of attorney entitling Juliet Kadungure to administer the entire estate of the deceased.
“We are further instructed that the family accepted the will and recommended your appointment in terms of the will as executrix testamentary only because you unduly influenced them to do so,” said the family’s lawyers.
The lawyers added that the family was contesting the genuineness of the unsigned will presented by Ms. Darangwa.
“However, the family’s suspicion around the authenticity of the will remains difficult to oust.
“The family has always had, and still has, unanswered questions regarding the said will…
“We must mention that the dissatisfaction and anxiety over the genuineness or origin of the will, coupled with a recollection of diverse events antecedent to the demise of the deceased, all culminated in the family’s resort to getting legal advice with a view to bringing closure to the issue of the will,” said Ushewokonze Law Chambers.
Ms. Darangwa, through her lawyers Rufu Makoni Legal Practitioners, denied ever influencing the family to accept her executorship or the unsigned will.
“When she (Ms. Darangwa) read the will to the family members, they were all very happy about the contents thereof and stated that the will in question contained the wishes of the deceased, which he had hinted to some of the family members, friends and employees before his demise.
“The family unanimously agreed that the estate be registered.
“Even after the registration of the estate, your clients were working very well with our client. She is therefore shocked by your clients’ averments that she unduly influenced them to accept the will,” reads the letter by Ms Darangwa’s lawyers.
Kadungure died on November 8 last year along Liberation Legacy Way in Harare, ordinarily known by many as Borrowdale Road, when his speeding Rolls Royce collided head-on with a Honda Fit.
His vehicle veered off the road and hit a tree before catching fire.
He was with two foreign friends who had come for the Saturday night party.
Limumba Karim from Malawi and a Mozambican, who was only identified as Alicia and the birthday girl, Mitchelle “Moana” Amuli were burnt beyond recognition after the doors of the Rolls Royce jammed on impact and it took many hours for police and the Fire Brigade to retrieve their remains from the wreckage. The Herald