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‘Greedy’ executor removed from dealing with US$30m Pfugari estate

The High Court has removed the executor for the US$30 million estate left behind by the late property tycoon, Edward Nyanyiwa, popularly known as Eddies Pfugari, from the position after one of the beneficiaries accused him of charging 15% of the estate’s gross assets instead of 5% as stipulated by the law.

Pfugari’s daughter, Henrietta Nyanyiwa, had accused the executor of the estate of trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the beneficiaries.

In the court papers, the applicant cited the Master of the High Court, executor Clive Mandizvidza, E Pfugari Estate (Pvt) Limited, and Eddies Pfugari (Pvt) Limited as the first to fourth respondents.

Mandizvidza was appointed the executor of the estate on March 21, 2019.

She wanted the court to set aside the Master of the High Court’s decision to confirm the liquidation and distribution of accounts filed by E Pfugari Properties in respect of the estate.

The late Eddies Pfugari (Pictures by Roselyne Sachiti)
The late Eddies Pfugari (Pictures by Roselyne Sachiti)

Henrietta also noted that there was no proper valuation of the shares held by the deceased in the various companies he had interests in as envisaged by the Estate Duty Act [Chapter 23:03].

“That the executor, who is more interested in enriching himself at the expense and to the prejudice of the beneficiaries, would have failed to perform his duties and must be removed from office,” she submitted.

Accordingly, on August 25, 2020 Henrietta’s lawyers wrote two letters of complaint to the Master of the High Court seeking determination on whether the interim distribution account for the estate of the late Nyanyiwa should be set aside or whether the fees charged by the Mandizvidza should be set aside. They also sought his removal as executor.

Justice Tagu’s judgment read: “According to the applicant, the second respondent’s conduct constituted overcharging and that the account be set aside.”

The estate of the late Eddies Pfugari (Pictures by Roselyne Sachiti)
The estate of the late Eddies Pfugari (Pictures by Roselyne Sachiti)

But the executor refuted the allegations, saying a valuation was being done under section 6 of the Estate Duty Act. He also said the applicant had failed to demonstrate how the estate had been overcharged and that he simply taxed the estate as informed by the statutes.

Justice Tagu said Mandizvidza did not dispute that the 15% fee was not fair.

“It is trite that which is not disputed in the affidavits is taken as admitted. I say so because the first and second respondents did not dispute the applicant’s assertion that the 15% fee charged is neither fair nor reasonable.

“Once it is accepted that the first respondent ought to have assessed whether the fee charged is fair and reasonable, which he did not do since he simply followed what was placed before him by the second respondent (Mandizvidza), then it must follow that it was not as that fact was not challenged,” Justice Tagu ruled.

“A 5% fee would still translate to a very substantial amount by any standard and would have constituted a more than reasonable fee for the second respondent.”

Eddies PfugariMandizvidza was castigated by Justice Tagu over the brazen attitude he displayed when he went on to dispose of the assets after the approval by the Master of the High Court in the face of court challenges.

The judge further ordered that the decision to confirm Mandizvidza’s interim liquidation and distribution accounts in the estate of the late Edward Nyanyiwa under DR Number 471/19 be set aside.

Justice Tagu removed Mandizvidza from being the executor of the estate and ordered that only 5% should be charged on the gross value of the estate. Nehanda Radio