Sheriffs to return Minister Chiumia’s seized property: Court order

The High Court in Mzuzu has directed the sheriffs to return property seized from Minister of Tourism Youth Sports and Culture, Grace Chiumia in relation to the case she is being accused of duping a widow Cecilia Mkandawire and her family of K13, 647,237.00- a balance of property sale transaction.

On July 11th the sheriffs executed a court Order issued on June 11, 2014 after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Parliamentarian defaulted a court ruling made on May 5th, 2013.

Chiumia was dragged to court on grounds she was failing to pay the Mkandawires K13, 647,237.00, which is a remaining balance of a house sale her organization Chisomo Garry Widows Organization transacted on behalf of United States of America (USA) based charity organization Hope Ministry.

Grace 'Obama' Chiumia: No wrongdoing
Grace ‘Obama’ Chiumia: No wrongdoing

On Thursday, Chiumia’s lawyer, Patrick Ngwira filed an ex-parte application asking the court to suspend the earlier court order to sheriffs on argument that Chiumia was wrongly sued as defendant instead of Chisomo Garry Widows Organization, which was the purchaser in the property sale transaction.

“Upon receipt of the summons, our office engaged in discussions with legal practitioners for the plaintiff that the first defendant be struck off from these proceedings as she is not the proper party. An agreement was reached to remove the first defendant from the proceedings by consent and we duly drafted the consent order and served it on the plaintiffs lead practitioners for signing,” reads part of the affidavit filed by Ngwira.

The court has since ruled that goods seized by the sheriff of Malawi be returned to the Minister, and ordered the Minister to file for application to set aside the earlier judgment the issued on May 5th of which she defaulted.

But in a separate interview, Mkandawire’s lawyer, Christon Ghambi dismissed the court ruling as fiction, arguing he wasn’t served with order reversing the decision by sheriffs to confiscate Chiumia’s property.

Ghambi also dismissed claims by Ngwira that they were consulted and that consent was granted on the application to remove Chiumia as first defendant from the court proceedings.

“All those are lies. I was never served any document in relation to that, and further more we have never reached any agreement remove Chiumia from the proceedings. And I cannot accept that,” argued Ghambi.

But Ngwira told Nyasa Times the court acted on ex-perte application and that the plaintiff will only be served with the order reversing sheriffs’ action.

“There is a court we obtained only that our application was ex-perte therefore didn’t require to serve them (Mkandawire’s lawyers). But we will serve them the order. We will only engage them in the application to set aside the default judgment,” explained Ngwira.

He further insisted that there was an agreement with the plaintiff’s legal practitioners Lameck and company for Chiumia, sued as first defendant, to be struck off from these proceedings as she is not the proper party.

“The problem is that there is a change of legal practitioners by the plaintiff. And it is clear honorable Chiumia cannot be a defendant in this case when the sale transaction was done between the Mkandawires and her organization,” further explained Ngwira.

According to Sale Agreement Nyasa Times has obtained, Chiumia is just a signatory to the property sale transaction of the house title Number Katawa CH2/1 situated in Chimaliro, Mzuzu Cecilia Mkandawire and her Mwiza Mkandawire sold to United States of America (USA) based charity organization Hope Ministry.

The agreement signed on August 2nd, 2013 states Chiumia’s Chisomo Garry Widows Organization as purchaser of the house at the cost of US$100,000 (K40 million based on exchange rate then) with the Mwiza Mkandawire listed a vendor.

The Sale Agreement indicates that Chisomo Garry Widows Organization paid ( in two phases) K26, 352, 763.00 and remained with a balance of K13, 647,237.00 that was to be paid within a period of 30 days after the change of house ownership was done.

Hope Ministry, which also operates in Malawi and runs Mzuzu Crisis Nursery is said to have used Chiumia’s organization to buy the house at a price of MK 40 Million on legal ground.

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