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Crooked lawyer delisted, 7 face investigations

A BULAWAYO lawyer has been delisted over improper conduct while seven others have their cases still pending before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

Mr Masimba Munjanja of Munjanja and Associates law firm in Bulawayo was delisted after he allegedly committed several cases involving abuse of trust funds and failure to properly represent clients among others.

Mr Munjanja’s delisting brings to five the number of lawyers struck off the register since last year.

High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, who chairs the tribunal last week ordered the deletion of Mr Munjanja’s name from the register of legal practitioners, notary publics and conveyancers in Zimbabwe.

The disciplinary hearing for Mr Munjanja had been set for last week in Justice Bhunu’s chambers, but an order was issued after Mr Munjanja chose not to oppose the matter.

He had initially filed a notice of opposition, but decided against it and issued a consent notice shortly before the hearing date. Seven other lawyers facing various accusations had their cases deferred to allow some paperwork to be sorted out.

Justice Bhunu postponed cases involving Mr Edmond Chivhinge, Mr Martin Chasakara, Mr Emmanuel Ndizeye, Mr Warren Makunike, Mr Cremmah Chipere, Ms Blessing Nhambure and Mr Walter Chikanda to later dates. The seven stand accused of breaching the Law Society of Zimbabwe regulations including abuse of trust funds and use of fake High Court stamps.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe filed an application for deregistration of Mr Munjanja after receiving several complaints about his conduct as a legal practitioner.

In June last year, LSZ received a complaint from Qotho Finance that Mr Munjanja wrote a letter to the company informing them that a certain person was a lawyer with his firm. This caused the firm to release a US$500 loan to the person on the strength of the letter.

Major Meats Butchery enlisted the services of Mr Munjanja to collect a debt on its behalf from a debtor.

The lawyer allegedly asked for US$500 for the service, but ever since the payment was made, no further action was taken to recover the debt except for a case number and an unstamped copy of summons that were furnished to the client.

In another complaint, the lawyer was engaged by Mr JM Lawrie of KB Davies to institute legal action against a tenant who had previously rented the company’s premises.

Mr Munjanja allegedly received payment amounting to US$12 128 for his charges, court charges and deputy sheriff charges, but only one document was filed at the High Court in Bulawayo.

Another complainant Mr J Mangezi bought a property worth US$38 000 from a woman called Sarah Khanye.

When payment was made Mr Munjanja was instructed to facilitate the transfer of the property to Mr Mangezi but he did not do anything, leaving the buyer with suspicion that he had abused trust funds.

The LSZ received another complaint from Mr MN Munangwa of Toringepi Investments accusing Mr Munjanja of professional negligence that resulted in a default judgment being entered against the client.

An appeal against the said default judgment was also dismissed. It was also indicated in the application that Mr Munjanja failed or refused to pay fees for an advocate.

He allegedly refused to pay Advocate Nkiwane US$1 800 after instructing him to assist in defending two businessmen in a criminal trial.

The LSZ also sought deregistration of Mr Munjanja because he had not given a satisfactory explanation on allegations of failing to professionally represent his clients, resulting in them losing the matter and suffering financial prejudice. The LSZ described the conduct of Mr Munjanja as an embarrassment to the profession.

“It is respectfully submitted that the complaints against the respondent’s actions are clearly an embarrassment to the legal profession, which should not only be seen to be noble but competent and observing the highest standard of conduct and morals,” read the application.

The LSZ is seeking an order for deletion of Mr Chasakara from the register of legal practitioners on allegations that he used a fake High Court date stamp on a notice of opposition prepared on behalf of a client.

Mr Ndizeye, according to the court papers, failed to remit trust funds and thereby brought the name of the profession into disrepute.

Mr Makunike and Mr Chipere are facing allegations of abusing trust funds.

Ms Nhambure is facing deregistration following her conviction in a corruption case in which she was jointly charged with a Chegutu magistrate. They allegedly corruptly facilitated a marriage at the courts. She was convicted of soliciting or accepting a bribe.

Mr Chikanda faces two counts of abusing trust funds.

Last year, four lawyers were de-listed from the legal practitioners’ roll on various misconduct allegations including misappropriation of trust funds and unprofessional conduct- Herald.