Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The High Court has ordered the release of 17 haulage trucks impounded at Beitbridge carrying copper and cobalt hydroxide on its way to South Africa from DRC worth $7,5 million after it emerged that the sheriff relied on a fraudulent default judgment to attach the vehicles and their loads.
Tenke Fungurume S.A, had its containers of copper attached at Beitbridge on the strength of a court order obtained by a local company, Bruno Enterprises.
Tenke Fungurume then investigated and established that Bruno Enterprises had wrongly asked the judge to grant the order unopposed when the opposing papers had already been filed at the High Court in Harare.
Bruno Enterprises instructed the Sheriff to attach property belonging to Tenge Fungurume at Beitbridge and tonnes of copper coming from DRC destined for South Africa were intercepted.
The foreign firm then rushed to the High Court with an urgent chamber application for the release of the consignment. On Monday Justice Amy Tsanga stopped the sale of the attached property and ordered its immediate release.
“Pending the return date, the applicant is granted the following relief:
“That execution of the warrant of execution issued under case number 2036/15 be and is hereby stayed.
“The second respondent (Sheriff), its deputy or any of his officers are ordered and directed forthwith to release all the applicants’ copper and cobalt hydroxide and any other property attached in terms of the writ issued on the 24th April 2015.
“Costs shall be determined on the return date,” ruled Justice Tsanga.
Advocate Thabani Mpofu, instructed by Dube Manikai and Hwacha acted for Tenke Fungurume while Mudimu Law Chambers appeared for Bruno Enterprises. The lawyers who represented Bruno Enterprises at the time when the application for default judgment was made, Madotsa and Partners, wrote to the Chief Registrar of the Superior Court admitting that the default judgment was dubious but distanced themselves from it.
Madotsa and Partners indicated that the law firm’s name was used to obtain the court order by a former clerk in connivance with Bruno Enterprises without the principals’ knowledge.
“We wish to make it clear that we do not want to associate ourselves with the order granted on the 22nd of April 2015 since it was filed in error by our clerk together with the client without the authority of Madotsa and Partners Legal Practitioners.
“The clerk has since been relieved of his duties on the 16th of April 2015 as a result of the default judgment which he filed on April 13 2015. We write further to advise that the execution which resulted in 17 trucks of copper ore being attached in Beitbridge is a nullity since the order was improperly obtained and the renunciation of agency purportedly filed by us is fraudulent,” reads part of the letter. Mudimu Law Chambers, who took over the matter from Madotsa and Company, also admitted to the Sheriff that the order was not legitimate.
“Upon assessing certain correspondences from Messrs Dube Manikai and Hwacha, who represented the defendant and inspection of the High Court record by Mr Mudimu with Mr Hwacha today, we have ascertained that the judgment was granted in error and therefore that it is null and void,” reads the letter.