Former cabinet minister who also served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Thyolo North during the United Front Democratic (UDF) government, Rolf Patel is embroiled in a controversial court case in which he is being accused of taking advantage of a bed-ridden business associate, Luka Sam Zumazuma, to force him sell prime land at Chigumula in Limbe, Blantyre for a song.
Court documents Nyasa Times has seen show that the now deceased Zumazuma’s children, led by Captain Zumazuma — 11 years after his death — claim that Patel took advantage of Zumazuma’s incapacitation to claim some debt he had with the deceased amounting to K650,000.
“Since Mr. Zumazuma could not repay the cash of K650,000, Patel enticed Mr. Zumazuma to offer him, as repayment to the loan, half of the prime land he owned at Chigumula,” a source privy to the matter said.
“What was presented in court is that, before his death, Zumazuma borrowed money amounting to K650,000 from Mr. Patel to recapitalise his business but Zumazuma was not able to repay that debt up until he became so seriously ill.
“When Patel sensed that the man was not going to survive, looking at the state of his health, he approached him to sell half of his land at what he borrowed — K650,000. Zumazuma obliged because he was not in any condition to raise money to repay the debt he had with Patel.”
A source said papers of land ownership transfer at K650,000 have been tendered in court, which does show that the transaction was legally binding but what has brought the Zumazuma’s children to seek court redress are new developments as regards to the remaining piece of prime land.
“After Zumazuma’s death, Patel took advantage of the children’s helplessness since they were required to settle some of the debts that were incurred by their deceased’s father as well as all other funeral related costs,” the source said.
“He enticed them to sell the rest of the land at K1.3 million. The children obliged but they requested that Patel gets the land and the children should keep the warehouse that was on the land.
“The children planned to demolish the warehouse to salvage its still-valuable roof sheets and bricks to be used for some construction elsewhere but, when the children were taking too long to do that, Patel took upon himself to demolish the building and keep the iron sheets and bricks to himself.
“That’s what infuriated the children and when Patel seemed not to honour his side of the bargain they decided to take the case for court redress. Now the children are asking the court to review the whole case, including the first sale of the half of the land Patel had with the deceased,” the source said.
He added that to add salt to injury, Patel is trying to evict the children’s uncle Hendrix Zumazuma from the piece of land which falls on the first half of the land Patel bought at K650,000 from the bed-ridden Zumazuma.
“It is alleged that when that first half of the land was being sold to Patel, it was agreed that Zumazuma’s brother’s piece of land should be spared. The uncle went ahead and organised title deed to that piece of land and those papers of rightful owner were presented in court,” the source said.
“Patel even cordoned off access path to the uncle’s house and he had to access his home from elsewhere than where he used to along the main road of Limbe to Thyolo,” the source said.
So far, the case has been at the Midima Magistrate in Limbe and the next hearing is on Friday, August 12, 2016.
MP sued over land
In another development, Blantyre City West member of parliament (MP) for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Trasizio Thom Gowelo has been taken to court alongside Blantyre City Council (BCC) over alleged unlawful acquisition of land belonging to another developer in the Blantyre central business district (CBD).
The piece of land under dispute is situated in Blantyre CBD on plot number BC 173 which used to house the popular Moti’s Mini Market shop at the corner of Haile Selassie and Mandala roads.8
Court documents show that the council leased the land to Gowelo on February 13 2015 for a period of 66 years.
An affidavit signed by Muhammed Ahmed, managing director of the hospitality facility, shows the company leased the land for 66 years from April 1 1960 to April 1 2026.
Further, the affidavit shows that the last valuation of the land conducted by property management and valuation firm Knight Frank on February 1 2015 put the land’s market value in the region of K194 million. However, Gowelo acquired it at K4.5 million.
According to the court documents, at the time of obtaining the land, Gowelo was minister of Local Government and Rural Development to whom the council was reporting.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :