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Double blow for Kucaca Phulu's wife

by Staff reporter
15 Dec 2023 at 02:20hrs | Views
A BULAWAYO lawyer who was suspended from practice by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) for alleged improper conduct before being placed under curatorship has encountered a double blow after being sued by her former client alleging "deficiency in service".

In an application filed at the Bulawayo Civil Court Viola Chagweka claimed Doreen Vundhla-Phulu failed to provide her with satisfactory service in a case between her and her former husband Sydwell Nsingo.

She claimed Vundhla-Phulu refused to refund her US$1 300 being the amount she had paid her to initiate and pursue an appeal on her behalf.

She said despite Vundhla-Phulu's initial commitment to refund her the money, she failed to make any payments prompting her to seek legal action.

As if that was not enough, Chagweka also alleged that Vundhla-Phulu lost the title deeds for her house.

"The plaintiff's claim is for the sum of $1 300 United States dollars which is for services not rendered. I also demand the title deeds for my house," her suit reads in part.

Prior to seeking legal recourse, Chagweka formally lodged a complaint against Vundhla-Phulu with LSZ on 5 July 2023.

Her complaint reads in part: "Following a judgement by the High Court on my case, I engaged Vundhla-Phulu to file my appeal papers at the Supreme Court. Before proceeding with the matter Vundhla-Phulu demanded that I pay her all the amount for the services to be rendered within four days to which I did and the papers were filed on the 16th of March 2021.

"After serving the Supreme Court and respondent's lawyers, Vundhla-Phulu then got a call from the Supreme Court that they needed a copy with a High Court stamp. This then made her realise that she did not serve the High Court.

"On the 21st of May 2021, Vundhla-Phulu then made a chamber application for reinstatement but the matter was struck off the roll due to some reasons which I believe Vundhla-Phulu knows. Mrs Vundhla-Phulu did not tell me of this development but just became reluctant with my case".

She stated that on 9 March 2023 Vundhla-Phulu was called to appear in court on her case but she did not appear and upon inquiring as to why she did not appear she told  her that she was not able to attend because of network problems of which it was not true.

"I then had to ask my brother who is in Harare to help me follow up with my case. Through his assistance, I realised that the matter was struck off the roll. I confronted Mrs Vundhla-Phulu on why she lied to me about the position of the case and surprisingly she told me that she was not aware that it was struck off.

"Later, I found out that Vundhla-Phulu was suspended from duty and her company was put under judicial management and Mr Majoko of the Majoko and Majoko Legal Practitioners was appointed the new man in charge of her clients. I then went to Mrs Vundhla-Phulu and asked her to take my files to Mr Majoko and she took them to him as agreed," she said.

She said her complaint arose when Majoko informed her that he was unable to proceed with her case unless additional money was provided.

"This is not going well with me as I have paid all the money to Vundhla-Phulu. Mr Majoko wrote an invoice early this year which I took to Vundhla-Phulu and on which she promised to pay.

"It is now almost two months without any action from  Vundhla-Phulu and time is moving for my case to be heard. Her promises are never fulfilled and this is eating me deeply especially considering that Mr Majoko is insisting that he cannot file my papers without having received any payment.

"Moreover, Vundhla-Phulu was in possession of my title deeds but to my surprise she is saying she cannot locate them which makes me worried. With the importance I attach to these title deeds. I am having sleepless nights as to how I will recover them," her complaint further reads.

Presiding over the case Bulawayo magistrate Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe dismissed the application seeking an order to compel the delivery of the title deeds, citing the court's lack of jurisdiction to handle interdict proceedings.

He, however, ordered Vundhla-Phulu to reimburse Chagweka the sum of US$1 300.

He said it was not in dispute that the applicant engaged the respondent who was then a registered legal practitioner and practicing law in the courts of Zimbabwe.

"It is common cause that this year the respondent was suspended from practice and placed under curatorship of Majoko and Majoko Legal Practitioners. It is not in dispute that while practicing the mandate given to the respondent was to file and execute an appeal on behalf of the applicant.

"It is also not in dispute that a total of US$1 300 was paid to the respondent and the Advocate she had instructed. What is only in dispute is whether the services were rendered properly by the respondent without any negligence or prejudice to the applicant," said the magistrate.

He said any analysis of the evidence on paper and arguments made by both parties show clearly that litigation did not proceed to finality due to fault or omissions occasioned by the respondent.

"Surely, it was the duty of the respondent to ensure that the High Court had stamped the documentation. There was no stamped copy from the High Court. This is so because the respondent had not served the High Court.

"Despite having been placed under curatorship it was her duty to hand over all cases and their status to the curator or update the curator on the status of each case.

"I hereby find the respondent liable to pay back the US$1 300, for the services not rendered properly. Judgement is therefore granted in favour of the applicant in the sum of US$1 300," ruled Chikwekwe.

Source - B-Metro