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Scramble for Rhodes' estate

by Staff reporter
12 Mar 2022 at 07:33hrs | Views
Groups of people are scrambling for the multi-million-dollar estate left behind by a descendant of former colonialist Cecil John Rhodes amid reports that the Registrar of Companies has so far nullified a number of fraudulent CR14 forms filed by opportunists seeking to grab the companies.

This comes at a time when syndicates that identify idle properties left behind by deceased businesspeople of foreign origin and seek to fraudulently inherit them using forged documents are on the prowl.

Brian James Rhodes, who jointly owned Karoi Properties Pvt Ltd and Beverly East Properties with his wife Elizabeth, died in 2006 at the age of 75.

The companies own vast land in Harare's Msasa area, along Mutare Road with structures.

They own stand numbers 184, 186, 188, 194 and 196 Mutare Road, an area that is dominated by car sales.

The elderly widow has since left for England, while five children are believed to be scattered across the world.

Mrs Rhodes has cried foul over attempts by some individuals to take over the companies and properties saying in the past 16 years, she never got a cent from the estate that rakes in up to US$21 000 in monthly rentals.

The property is in excess of four hectares and it is between the Management Training Bureau, Msasa, and the roundabout near Pick n Pay supermarket (popularly known as the Jaggers area).

Reputable companies are tenants on the land and they are paying rent to agents of the companies, although the ownership wrangle is still to be resolved.

Some have started resisting to pay rent, sparking disputes that have since spilled into the courts.

The unavailability of the Rhodes family members has seen different camps of Zimbabweans jostling to get a share from the estate.

A number of fraudulent CR14 forms have been filed at the Companies' Registry by people who appointed themselves shareholders in Karoi Properties and Beverly East Properties with a view to grabbing the assets.

In some of the cases, former employees of the deceased and real estate companies tasked with management of the assets may take advantage of their proximity to the family and illegally take over the properties.

For close to two decades, different camps, including top police officers, have been fingered in fraudulent attempts to grab the company.

According to the deceased estate file DR 1426/10, Rhodes' widow Elizabeth is believed to be in the United Kingdom, while his son Sean is believed to be in South Africa.

His daughters - Sharna Farquart and Larna Cruger - are believed to be in Australia, while the third daughter Bernice Kilburn is said to be in Zambia.

However, it remains unclear whether all the potential beneficiaries are still alive, considering the long drawn battle for control of their father's assets.

Investigations by The Herald revealed that former top police officer Retired Commissioner Oliver Chibage and Retired Chief Superintendant Joel Tenderere were among those who filed fraudulent CR14 forms appointing themselves directors of the companies owned by Mr Rhodes.

The CR14 Form in question, has since been cancelled after Justice Joseph Musakwa ruled that Chibage, Tenderere and five others had imposed themselves as directors of Karoi Properties and Beverly East Properties in violation of the law.

Chibage and Tenderere were appointed directors together with former employees of the Rhodes family, Gideon Hwemende, Valentine Mushore, Alfred Chademana, Farai Mutizwa, and Calistor Vengesai.

In a court order dated 24 May 2016,  Justice Musakwa nullified the seven's directorship to the two companies.

"The appointment as directors of the first to seventh defendants in Beverly East Properties Pvt Ltd and Karoi Properties Pvt Ltd is illegal and the CR14 forms and all other statutory documents issued by 9th defendant (Registrar of Companies) confirming such appointments are null and void.

"The 9th defendant shall forthwith do all such things as are necessary to give effect to paragraph 1 above . . . "

A check with the Companies Registry shows that a number of fraudulent CR14 forms were cancelled by the Registrar of Companies in compliance with the court order.

A copy of that order was placed in both company files as caveat to future transactions.

The Registrar of Companies also cancelled, with a red pen, another CR14 form filed by IE Vermaak dated July 5, 2012 where a set of five other people was appointed directors of Beverly Properties.

The five are: Lourence Erasmus Vermaak, Roselyn Sarudzai Hwemende, Munyaradzi Hwemende, Omega Sipani Hungwe and Terence Cobden Rhodes.

Another CR14 form dated 27 August 2016, presented for filing by Farai Mutizwa, was also found to be illegal and was cancelled.

That document listed the following people as directors of the company: Gideon Hwemende, Roselyn Sarudzai Hwemende, Calisto Vengesai, Farai Mutizwa, Omega Sipani Hungwe and Munyaradzi Hwemende.

Karoi Properties' file at the Registrar of Companies office currently has one CR14 form which has some glaring misrepresentation.

The document shows that the late Mr Rhodes resigned as a director, some six years after his death.

A death certificate filed with the Master of High Court shows that Mr Rhodes died on July 29, 2006 but the CR14 form shows he resigned as a director of Karoi Properties in April 2012.

On the same document, presented for filing by Veracity Business Services, the surviving directors of Karoi Properties are listed as Brian Shaun Murphy ID 63-167978 V00 and Mr Adam Wood ID 63-920416 M00.

Interestingly, Murphy once acted as an agent for Beverly East Properties, in his capacity as a director for veracity Executors' Trust Services but he is now listed as a director of Karoi Properties.

However, The Herald is seeking to establish whether the said two directors are still alive.

The Herald visited Dandaro Village in Borrowdale where Murphy, according to the CR14, stays but he could not be located.

Sources said Number 26 Dandaro is occupied by a woman and Murphy does not stay there and they were not sure if he is still alive.

The Registrar General's office is yet to confirm the statuses of Murphy and Wood. The office is expected to state whether or not the pair can be found in their database, and whether they are still alive.

While the estate is still pending, another company known as Zoomway Investments Pvt Ltd has featured, represented by Gabriel Real Estate.

Zoomway, claims control of the property and it even sought eviction of some of the tenants from the disputed land.

Sources say Zoomway could have purchased the property while the estate had not been wound up.

The directors of Zoomays Investments, according to the Companies Registry file, are Wesley Tazvishaya Chingwena, Tapiwa Russel Chingwena, Sibongile Charlene Chingwena and Tonderayi Wayne Chingwena.

The Herald contacted Mrs Rhodes in England via video calling and she accused some individuals of trying to grab her late husband's assets.

"The place where you are standing right now falls under Beverly East Properties and it is not part of the Pheonix Trust. It belongs to the estate of BJ Rhodes and myself and Rhodes' children should inherit it.

"However, the lawyer we had then, took that property and put it under the trust together with the other property on the other side of the road there.

"All of a sudden, the new trustees decided that the land belongs to them and took it away. I lost my rent that I was getting from the property.

"For the past 16 years, I havent received a penny from the trust. I dont know where the money is. I jumped into a plane and flew to England," said Mrs Rhodes.

Mrs Rhodes said there is a case at the High Court against the trust to prove that Beverly East Properties belongs to the trust and not the estate.

She added that at one point, some fraudsters once produced her death certificate in court when she was alive.

The executor of the estate Mr Oliver Masomera, in his report just after his appointment,  confirmed that there was looting.

"The companies have several buildings which are currently being occupied by tenants. The tenants are paying rentals close to US$21 000 per month. The rentals are being collected by several persons and some whom are legal and others who are looting, the estate is therefore losing income.

"It is also very clear that there is abuse of estate funds as the trustees and Gideon Hwemende are fighting for the control of US$70 000 in the custody of the lawyers. This is a very small amount of money compared to US$940 000 they could have collected if the estate and companies were properly managed.

"This is clear that of all the persons fighting for the control of these assets, none has the capacity to manage the properties," reads Mr Masomera's report.

Source - The Herald