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Delays at Law Society worry Byo clients

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Delays at Law Society worry Byo clients

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Garikai Mafirakureva 

BULAWAYO- Delays to deal with the alleged fraud involving Doreen Vundla-Phulu (41) of Vundla-Phulu and Partners by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) have left several clients who filed complaints a year ago worrying. 

LSZ suspended the Bulawayo-based lawyer’s licence in March last year and placed her law firm under curatorship, but nothing has been done to resolve her clients’ complaints so far.

Richard Chidza the Law Society of Zimbabwe Corporate Communications Manager admitted the delay but shoved the blame to the Legal Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

“Kindly note that the case is pending for set down at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (LPDT). The Law Society of Zimbabwe appears as the applicant and awaits communication from the LPDT on the dates of the hearing,” said Chidza.

The restive clients also accuse Vonani Majoko who was appointed the curator of trying to sweep their complaints under the carpet. They also said Majoko attempted to milk them by claiming that he could make an urgent caveat application in the case involving Toendepi Tanyanyiwa whose property was sold in 2019. Majoko had charged them US$ 1,500 for the service.

One of the complainants Netsai  Magunda said Majoko cannot make an urgent caveat application because the property was sold almost four years ago. “After consultation, we discovered it’s not possible to make an urgent application for a matter that happened four years ago. What will be urgent there,” said Magunda. 

Majoko, however, said he admits understands the people’s frustration because of the delays in resolving their issues. He went on to say Tanyanyiwa told him that the alleged buyer is a non-existent, unregistered company and he advised him that legally there was no sale because one cannot sell to a non-existent company. 

“I stated the basis of my opinion in the letter you have sent. Mrs Tanyanyiwa and Mrs Magunda were to bring proof that the buyer is not a registered company, but they did not and I left the matter at that. They are very wrong I must emphasize. Urgency is not determined by reference to the harm sought to be prevented

“Mrs Tanyanyiwa was willing to be advised but not Mrs Magunda. It’s a Lie. I have never refused to give anyone a file I have. You can confirm with the Law Society that the Tshabalala report was sent to the Law Society last year, around August.

Why would I want to sweep anything under the carpet? I understand people are frustrated by the slow pace and they are anxious to know what the future holds for them, but casting unfounded aspersions helps no one,” said Majoko.

According to documents in the hands of The Mirror, Doreen Vundhla Phulu a principal partner in Vhundhla Phulu and Partners was engaged by different clients in conveyancing and other legal services who later lost properties and money through alleged forgery, misuse of money, negligence, misrepresentation and unauthorised discounts and payments in RTGS not agreed upon by clients.

Clients also complained that Phulu would not bank money she received on behalf of her clients and she did not keep proper accounting records. In one case Phulu allegedly sold a property of her client twice resulting in a prejudice of US$15 000 to one of the buyers.

Getrude Tshabalala of Riverside Bulawayo complained that she contracted Phulu for conveyancing for 10 plots owned by her and her three children.

The plots had a total value of US$245 000 and she was allegedly prejudiced through false documents by the lawyer, concealing important information, failure to present complete statements of accounts and failure to produce.

Tshabalala complained that Phulu failed to produce documents for the payment of US$55 000 she made to a Mr Sithole for the servicing of land in the form of construction of roads and water supply.

Tshabalala had complaints with all the 10 plots sold on her behalf by Phulu.

Netsai Magunda complained to Law Society that in 2017, she and her brother Kutamahufa engaged Phulu to prepare an agreement on the sale of a property that they wanted to purchase Stand 153 and 154 Matsheumhlope Bulawayo.

After signing the agreement of sale they only realised in 2019 that Phulu had transferred the property into another person’s name.

Magunda has allegedly failed to recover her US$15 750. Viola Chagweka complained that she engaged Phulu to do her appeal case at the Supreme Court. Phulu demanded payment upfront within four days and this was done.

After serving the other parties the Supreme Court allegedly called her to provide a copy with the High Court stamp and this is when Chagweka realised that Phulu had not served the High Court.

In May 2021 Phulu made a chamber application for reinstatement of the matter which had been struck off. She allegedly did not give Chagweka the reasons why the matter was struck off.

Later Chagweka allegedly realised that Phulu was suspended from duty and her company was put under judiciary management, and Majoko of Majoko and Majoko was appointed in charge of all Phulu clients.

In 2018, Netsai Magunda says she engaged Phulu over a relative’s property that was being auctioned. They wanted Phulu to save the property,

The property was referred to a private treaty with the complainant expected to get a buyer.

Magunda and her relatives were surprised to be told that Geomoses Investments was the highest bidder and it got the property for RTGS$180 000. Records at the Registrar of Deeds allegedly indicate that the said company does not exist. The value of the property was US$250,000. 

Tanyanyiwa reported both Deputy Sheriff Mitchell Shungu and Michael Nekati of Bulawayo Real Estate to the Commercial Crime Division (CCD) under the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Southern Region. 

The case is yet to be heard at the Bulawayo Magistrate Court almost three years later. He had written to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the LSZ, but he found no joy.  

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