Grabbing a late brother’s estate and excluding the deceased’s minor surviving daughter from property distribution, has backfired on a Mutare family after the now enlightened sole child filed an application claiming back the looted assets 16 years after her father’s death. The practice is common in African culture and many orphans and widows have fallen victim to the looting of estates by greedy close relatives.
Ms Tereziah Melisa Mukudu (21), lost her father Mr Lazarus Mukudu in 2000 when she was five years old. Her late father’s siblings took advantage of her age and registered the estate without her knowledge. The woman’s mother, Ms Beatrice Mangwiro, also died in 2003.
The estate that included a Mutare house and cash was distributed among the members of the Mukudu family to her exclusion. The Mukudu family members argued that the house belonged to their late father and it was only registered in the name of the late Lazarus Mukudu for convenience since he was the youngest in the family.
However, an investigation by Ms Mukudu (the deceased’s daughter) shows that the property was bought by her late father (Lazarus) from a Mutare couple cited as Thomas and Bekezela Mutara in 1993.
The ownership history does not show any other member of the Mukudu family other than the late Lazarus. To that end, Ms Mukudu has taken her late father’s siblings to the High Court in a test case that is likely to benefit several victims of property grabbing of that nature.
In her declaration, Ms Mukudu stated that she was the only surviving child of the late Mr Lazarus Mukudu and Ms Mangwiro. According to the declaration, Ms Mukudu was born on October 19, 1995 and was the only child in that family.
At the time of her father’s death, the estate had various immovable and movable properties that were shared among the father’s siblings. Ms Mukudu got the shock of her life on February 23 this year when she went to Mutare magistrate’s Court to register her late father’s estate.
An edict meeting was called on May 20 this year and that is when she learnt that the estate had since been registered without her knowledge and that the property had been distributed.
She discovered that her late uncle called Martin had registered the estate and shared the property and the $44 977 with the other siblings to her exclusion. The siblings are receiving monthly rentals from the property, Stand Number 3588 Umtali Township, Mutare.
In the High Court case, Ms Mukudu is seeking an order declaring her as the sole surviving child of the late Lazarus who is entitled to benefit from the estate. She is seeking to nullify the final distribution of the estate that disinherited her.
Ms Mukudu is also seeking an order directing the Master of the High Court to amend the final liquidation and distribution account of the estate by including her as a beneficiary. The Mukudu siblings were still to file their responses ahead of a pre-trial conference. herald