8 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Mining Firm Loses $180 000 Suit

A chrome-smelting firm has lost its bid to reverse a $180 000 claim against it for extracting chrome ore on a Harare businessman's mining claims. Afrochine Smelting (Pvt) Limited, which invested heavily in chrome mining, was sued for carrying out mining operations at the businessman's claims.

Mr Tinotenda Mutizwa is the registered holder of the two mining claims known as VAN 17 (registration number 33280 BM) and DIVIDE (registration number 41089 BM in Darwendale). Mr Mutizwa sued Afrochine at the High Court claiming that he lost chrome ore to the tune of $180 000. He put the market rate of the chrome at $60 per tonne.

While Afrochine admitted liability, it contested the quantum of the damages sought. The firm failed to attend the court hearing, resulting in a default judgment being granted. Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo threw out Afrochine application for rescission of judgment for want of reasonable explanation for its default and the abhorrent conduct of lawyer Mr Erum Mutandiro.

"In the result, I am of the view that applicant has failed to discharge the onus on it of showing the existence of good and sufficient cause, warranting granting of rescission of judgment," said Justice Matanda-Moyo

"Accordingly the application fails and it is dismissed with costs." Justice Matanda-Moyo expressed disquiet over the unprofessional conduct of Mr Mutandiro in the manner he handled the case. She said what irked the court most was that a week before the date of the hearing, Afrochine appeared before the same court seeking stay of execution of the judgment granted in default.

Mr Mutandiro's argument, the judge said, was that the application for rescission was due to be heard in a week. Justice Matanda-Moyo said when the lawyer made such submissions, he actually knew he intended to apply for a postponement of the hearing of the application for rescission.

She noted that Afrochine created an impression of an applicant, who had no desire to see the result of the matter it instituted. The company, said Justice Matanda-Moyo, simply wanted to stretch the matter to frustrate Mr Mutizwa from receiving justice from the courts. Mr Mutizwa was represented by Mr Ash Mufari of Muhonde Attorneys.

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