Home » Judicial » Ex-City Boss Ordered to Pay U.S.$470k

A High Court judge has ordered property developer Mr Michael Mahachi to pay over US$470 000 in commission, interest and collection fees to an estate agent he sidelined after securing a buyer for his property. Mr Mahachi and Mutey Properties (Pvt) Ltd will pay US$476 250,00 to Stohill Properties in a dispute over the sale of MQH (Mahachi Quantum House) to the Ministry of Justice in 2010.

The building now houses the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices.

Mr Mahachi is the former chairman of Harare City Commission, who resigned from his post to take up a post as project manager of the Airport Road construction, a project he approved while still chairing the commission. He is also the director of Mutey Properties.

Stohill had sued Mr Mahachi and his company for sidelining it in the sale of the property for which it had secured a buyer and concluded the deal through a surrogate company of his, Iwe Neni Real Estate (INRE).

Stohill wanted to negotiate a higher price of US$8 million for the property.

But Mr Mahachi sold it at a lower price of US$6 350 000 and Stohill argued that it was entitled to US$476 250 00 being the 7,5 percent of the purchase price, for its role.

Justice Nicholas Mathonsi in a judgment handed down last week also hit out at Mr Mahachi and a Government official, Mr Lazarus Chimba, for engaging in an under- hand deal to elbow out Stohill from concluding the transactions.

“The fact that the seller elected to sideline the agent and accepted a lower price than that given in the mandate, does not disentitle the agent of its commission on the lower price accepted by the seller who deliberately prevented the agent from negotiating the price,” said Justice Mathonsi.

In his ruling, the judge described Mr Mahachi as a bad witness, while Mr Chimba and Mrs Theodorah Tsvaira (nee Mahachi) were a disaster to the defendant’s case.

“In short, Chimba was a very dishonest witness whose demeanour was extremely bad,” said Justice Mathonsi.

“He was completely unreliable. In fact, one may add that it is in everyone’s interest that he has retired and will now focus on spending time with his grandchildren and stop bringing embarrassment to the Government, the way he did in this case.”

The judge also blasted Mrs Tsvaira for falsifying her resume and claimed to be a property developer who had once worked for certain company even before it employed her.

Remarked Justice Mathonsi: “Nothing can be gained from her testimony. A witness who gives false evidence and lies about a particular incident leads to an inference that such witness is hiding something.”

The judge said after Stohill secured the purchaser of the property Mr Mahachi connected with Mr Chimba and the entire process was adulterated with the sole intention of sidelining the estate agent.

“Chimba was corrupted and even expressed unbridled indignation at the use of estate agents, which he said cost Government money preferring to deal directly with the owner of the property,” ruled Justice Mathonsi.

The evidence presented in court showed that Stohill secured a mandate from Mr Mahachi to sell his property registered in his company’s name. It flighted an aertisement in The Herald, which attracted the attention of the eventual buyer (Ministry of Justice).

It facilitated the inspection of the property and was able to secure the express interest of the purchaser and presided over the offer made to the buyer, which set in motion the process of valuation followed by Government when it buys property.

It searched for a buyer finding the Ministry of Justice, which was interested in the property and introduced the buyer to the seller.

After doing all this Stohill was prevented from completing its mandate because of the corrupt deal between Mr Mahachi and Mr Chimba.

When the Government requested to evaluate the property as norm with Government purchases, Stohill Properties was sidelined and the sale was concluded through INRE.

Mr Mahachi denied ever engaging Stohill, as their sole agent or ever signing an exclusive mandate empowering it to sell the property.

He claimed that INRE was given the exclusive mandate to sell the property and not Stohill.

Source : The Herald