Tuesday, 28 September 2021

ESTATE WRANGLE SPILLS INTO THE SUPREME COURT

A family dispute between beneficiaries of the late Albert Mashoko’s estate has spilled into the Supreme Court.

Mashoko died in 2007. According to court documents, before his death, Mashoko had established the Mashoko-Chikosi Family Trust in 2001 with his second wife Barbara Chikosi and her two children.

Mashoko then donated a property in Borrowdale to the trust which Chikosi and her children Albertina and Albert Mashoko forcefully occupied in 2014.

However, after a misunderstanding between Mashoko and Chikosi the High Court in 2005 had ordered that Chikosi’s name be altered from the Mashoko-Chikosi’s original Deed of Trust.

As the settlor, Mashoko was also ordered appoint an independent estate agent as a trustee to replace Chikosi.

Mashoko then incorporated Seeff Properties and four other children sired with his first wife Otilia into the trust before changing it to Mashoko-Kusisa Family Trust.

In a July 2020 judgment, Justice Esther Muremba nullified the Mashoko-Kusisa Family Trust before setting aside its deed of trust highlighting that it was not sanctioned by the court

The judge also ordered Otilia Mashoko and Seeff Properties who were appointed as an independent trustee to render a full account of the business operations of the Mashoko-Kusisa Family Trust from its inception in 2006.

“Therefore, the fact that the name of the trust was changed to Mashoko-Kusisa Family Trust after the court order was granted does not necessarily mean that this was improper or irregular.

“The pertinent question is, was the name changed or altered in compliance with the terms of the deed of trust?.

“The order never said the name Barbara Chikosi be removed whenever it appeared in the deed.

“It said the name was supposed to be removed wherever it appeared as a trustee. With this analysis it is my considered view that the purported amendment to the name of the trust was wrongly or unlawfully done.

“The court did not authorize the change or amendment of the name of the trust. It was wrongly interpreted,” the judge had ruled.

Now, Otilia’s children Tafadzwa, Munashe, Tatenda and Madeline Mashoko through their lawyer Thembinkosi Magwaliba are appealing against Justice Muremba’s decision.

In their argument the other four children claim that, the family trust is not a legal nullity.

“The Mashoko-Kusisa Family Trust is not a legal nullity since the High Court order HC3265/04 did not limit the powers of the settlor, Albert Mashoko, to dissolve the trust and substitute it with a new trust, to appoint new beneficiaries or to change the name of the trust.

“The defendants further pleaded that the four additional beneficiaries were lawfully appointed,” reads the papers.

The matter has been set down for October 26. H Metro

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