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Chamisa's lawyer says he faces 'extortionate' means

by Staff reporter
02 Oct 2022 at 09:13hrs | Views
PROMINENT attorney Advocate Thabani Mpofu, involved in a wrangle with Zimbabwean-Croat Joseph Crnkovic, a former finance officer for Chegutu-based mining company Dallaglio Investments, over allegations that he received a bribe to conceal racism allegations levelled against the company and its chief executive Michael Fowler, says he is facing "extortionate means" from his accuser.

Mpofu bitterly complains to the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) that he faces extortionate means from Crnkovic.

Extortionate conduct is any means that involves the use, or an express or implicit threat of use, of violence or other criminal means to cause harm to the person or property of the debtor or any member of his family.

Information obtained by The NewsHawks shows that Mpofu complained to the LSZ early last month, saying that he was being subjected to undue interference in his work as an advocate by Crnkovic.

This comes amid complaints by Crnkovic that Mpofu targeted him in his independent tribunal into allegations of racism against him and Fowler.

The NewsHawks gathered that the dispute dates back to February 2020 when Crnkovic, together with Fowler, was implicated in a human rights abuse scandal that was reported to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission by independent Norton legislator Temba Mliswa.

Mliswa reported that he had been approached by workers who said they were being subjected to racial and emotional abuse by Crnkovic and Fowler at the Chegutu mine.

An independent tribunal headed by Mpofu was set up to look into the matter, but, according to Crnkovic, he was told by his boss Matthew Hossack that he would face the tribunal alone.

Crnkovic's legal fees were settled by Breckridge Investments' lawyers, Promethious Law/ Lunga and Partners, while the workers were represented by Marufu Mandevere Legal Practitioners.

He then received an email from Zweli Lunga, a partner in Promethious Law/Lunga and Partners, requesting him to pay US$5 000 to the law firm for onward transmission to Mpofu, which he alleges was a bribe for exonerating the primary accused suspect, Fowler.

"Why did you only investigate myself and not the primary accused in Honourable Mliswa's accusations attached? It appears as if you personally targeted me in blatant disregard of the totality of the allegations by Honourable Mliswa in which Mr. Fowler was primarily accused," Crnkovic writes to Mpofu.

Crnkovic also alleges that Dallaglio Investments chairperson Matthew Hossack held private conversations with Mpofu, in which it was agreed that he would look into allegations levelled against him, and not Fowler - despite his being the primary accused.

"For what did you receive the payment of US$5 000 . . . that was agreed personally between yourself and Mr Hossack with the payment administered by myself. On appearance it would seem this payment was a financial inducement to yourself to ignore the allegation against the primary accused to protect him and allow blame to be shifted only to me," Crnkovic said in an email to Mpofu, that was copied to the UK Legal Council, Zimbabwe Legal Council and Croatian Consul.

Crnkovic has since lost his job, and places the blame on Mpofu, whom he accuses of taking a bribe to help his company throw him under the bus.

"After your independent public inquiry, I was asked to leave the company under duress with no reasons given," he says.

"The publicity . . . rendered me unemployable, but for a mere US$5 000 which yourself and Mr. Matthew Hossack agreed to exclude the primary accused Mr. Michael Fowler - to his gain and the loss of my career for a mere US$5 000," he said.

Crnkovic has also torn into Mpofu for representing Candrina Investments, a company that owns Glen Forest cemetery that is headed by Fungai Mparadzi, which he says has a track record of human rights abuses against him.

However, Mpofu says Crnkovic is interfering in his professional discharge of duty.

In 2021, conflict ensued between Crnkovic and other shareholders who were trying to buy him by offering him shares in an extension of Glen Forest cemetery. Crnkovic refused and said the land should be reserved for residential accommodation and agriculture.

"Why are you representing Mr. (Fungai) Mparadzi and his associates when they have a history of human and constitutional rights violations against me? At present I am defending at constitutional a criminal charge pressed against me by Mr. Mparadzi in his personal capacity, whilst you represent him and his close associates as advocate, against the 100 UK shareholders I represent," he writes.

"What happened to your morality and ethics Mr Mpofu? I know they are both bankrupt and for sale, but is not time to ask God to bail you out."

Mpofu has hit back in a letter to the LSZ, saying Crnkovic is bitter over the outcome of the tribunal.

"I want to bring to your attention an unfolding attempt by Mr. Joseph Crnkovic to interfere with my discharge of function as an advocate. The attempt is in my view extortionate and I have for that reason taken a very serious view of it," Mpofu says.

Mpofu said the dispute has also stemmed from his representation of Candrina Investments.

"Sometime ago in 2022, I was briefed by Costa and Madzonga Legal Practitioners to represent an entity known as Candrina. I provided certain evidence which led to negotiations between the company and its protagonist, an entity named Folpud. It turned out that Mr. Crnkovic was one of the officials at Folpud. Incidentally, Candrina alleges Crnkovic has been involved in a social media campaign to force its hand.

"Barely two days after, I received an email from Crnkovic. Various incomprehensible allegations are made that I must stop representing Candrina," he said.

Mpofu said Crnkovic should desist from dictating how he should be representing his clients.

"After a hearing in which evidence was tested by an evidence leader . . . I produced a report. The report completely exonerated Mr. Crnkovic in respect of the allegations of racism. I must state that in my discharge . . . I have conducted myself with absolute honour and professionalism. Indeed, Crnkovic had no complaints against me after my Dallagio task," Mpofu said.

Source - thenewshawks