Thindwa sues National Bank of Malawi: Demands K45m for loss of business

Blantyre based businessman, Harry Thindwa has commenced legal action against National Bank of Malawi (NBM) for illegally impounding his truck which led to loss of business claiming to be around  K45 million.

According to documents filed at Blantyre High Court Commercial division, National Bank on October 6, 2012 through its agents, Powermite Bargains (Mr. Tobit Fundi) illegally seized Thindwa’s truck, Man Diesel registration number NA3685 in its quest to recover payment of Master Lease entered between the bank and its client, Wandiya Thindwa.

The documents indicate that Wandiya Thindwa (Harry Nthindwa’s mother) used as surety her truck Layland DAF MZ8875 and Isuzu Giga NA3084 both registered under her company, Tahama Enterprise, in the Master Lease Agreement with the bank.

However, the lease agreement sureties did not include Harry Thindwa’s truck Man Diesel registered under Wanhat Investment, forcing him to file for compensation from the bank for loss of business due to the seizure of the vehicle with interest at current bank rate.

Claims

Thindwa through his lawyer, Ambokile Salimu claims he lost a two-year business deal from Katundu Haulage for a monthly fee of K1, 900, 000 totaling to K45, 600,000, following the seizure of his vehicle by the bank.

“The plaintiff pleads that on 25th September, 2012 entered into a written agreement with Katundu Haulage whereby the firm was to provide its motor vehicle Man Diesel, registration number NA3685 to Katundu Haulage for a monthly fee of MK1, 900,000 only.

“The plaintiff pleads that on 6th October, 2012 the plaintiff’s motor vehicle mentioned above was on one of its trips in fulfillment on the Katundu Haulage contract when it was seized by agents/servants of the defendants,” reads part of the Thindwa’s claim.

And in an interview, counsel Salimu said there was no legal or any other basis for the seizure of his client’s truck, and that the bank’s illegal conduct forced Katundu Haulage to terminate the multimillion Kwacha contract, leading to the business and financial loss by client.

“My client has no any liability with the bank in fact the motor vehicle is the subject of a lease Hire Agreement with the Leasing and Finance Company of Malawi Limited who is the holder. What the bank did was illegal because my client’s vehicle was and is not part of the said lease agreement with Wandiya Thindwa.

“And the bank’s agent was even told at the time of seizure that he had impounded a wrong vehicle but they claim Mrs. Thindwa verbally authorized the seizure, which is even contrary to their lease agreement terms, which states that no party can vary the terms and conditions of the agreement without written notice,” explained Salimu.

Defence

But in its defence, National Bank through its lawyers, Meyer Chisanga claimed the truck was impounded upon instructions from Wandiya Thindwa and dismissed that the seizure has led to loss of business.

“The defendant denies that it wrongfully seized motor vehicle registration number NA3685 because (a) the seizure of the motor vehicle was expressly authorized by Mrs. Wandiya Thindwa, (b) because the plaintiff’s are stopped by conduct from stating that they did not authorize the defendant to take hold of the truck.

“The defendant claim and pleads that had equitable and legal basis to seize the plaintiff’s said motor vehicle. The defendant denies that the plaintiff suffered any loss or at all and put the plaintiff to strict proof thereof. The defendant will contend that the seized motor vehicle was actually broken down which was just lying at Rest House in Salima and it was not in any usable state at the time of seizure,” defended the bank.

Chisanga claims that the said Katundu Haulage contract did not exist and that was a sham and fabricated one, demanding proof from Thindwa of the existence of the contract and operations of the seized truck.

The bank lawyer further claimed that Thindwa did not suffer any loss or damage as alleged as the vehicle was only withheld for only 5 to 6 days before was released by the bank, a time flame that could not cause Katundu Haulage to terminate the said contract.

Defamation

However, Salimu insisted in response to the bank’s defence that the seized truck was not owned by Wandiya Thindwa and therefore had no authority to authorize the seizure.

“It’s a blatant lie as shall be demonstrated at trial, that Mrs. Wandiya Thindwa ordered that the bank’s agent should seize motor vehicle Man Diesel registration number NA3685 as alleged. And the vehicle was broken down and that the contract with Katundu Haulage is a sham,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to Salimu his client has issued an instruction to sue the bank for defamation apart from the K45, 600, 000 compensation.

The case is set to resume at High Court Commercial Division on January 17 before Justice Kapanda for scheduling conference to determination before trial.

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