Community Development

Harare man wins back “stolen” house after many years of bitter struggle

Luke Mhlanga and family

BY BYRON MUTINGWENDE

A man from Harare’s high density suburb of Kambuzuma has finally won back his house after many years of torturous struggle in which a fraudster had illegally acquired its ownership for more than a decade-and-a-half years, rendering him and his entire family destitute.

Luke Mhlanga’s parents acquired House Number 1709 in Section 5 of Kambuzuma before Zimbabwe got independence from colonial rule in 1980. He reckons he has lived at the house since he was a toddler. His father passed away in September of 1984 and he lived with his mother and three other siblings at the same house.

“My mother later died in March of 1993 and I became the household head from that time. However, I left for Mozambique in February 2000 in search of greener pastures leaving the house in the custody of my two sisters and my young brother Caleb.

“In 2001, Admire Patsikadova came to lodge at the house. A year later, he forged my mentally-challenged brother, Caleb’s signature and fraudulently transferred the ownership of our house into his name,” Mhlanga said.

Mhlanga said when he came back from Mozambique in 2003 he was shocked to discover that his siblings had been evicted by the “new owner of the house” who purportedly had in his possession the agreement of sale document and receipts showing that he had fully paid for the house.

Unaware of the legal processes on how to make inquiries regarding a deceased estate, Mhlanga and his siblings were evicted from their home and sought lodgings elsewhere. Life was unbearable for his three siblings who had no means of survival and unfortunately the two sisters later died from sexually transmitted diseases because they had turned into prostitution for survival.

Over the years Patsikadova was collecting rentals from tenants and never bothered to assist members of the Mhlanga family in any way regardless of the fact that they would plead for assistance from him. Luke’s efforts to have justice delivered always hit a brick-wall since Patsikadova would allegedly bribe police officers and court officials to hide information like dockets that would be used to nail him.

“Luckily, in 2012, I attended one of Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC)’s mobile legal aid clinics in Kambuzuma. The ALAC officials led by Danai Mawuto explained to us in depth about corruption and its many ways of manifestation and it is then that I realized that I had been duped.

“I engaged a legal firm that I cannot name for professional reasons since the time I came back from Mozambique and am happy the lawyers started working on the matter with ALAC. The matter had been before the Magistrates’, Civil and High Court for over 10 years but I am happy that only three years after ALAC’s intervention, a ruling to the effect that the house be returned to me was made on February 11, 2015,” Mhlanga said.

Patsikadova was evicted from the House in April 2015. However, he did not let the matter go without putting a spirited fight. He came back a day after eviction and returned the property that had been thrown out by the Deputy Sheriff by breaking the house doors.

He was reported to the Deputy Sheriff who came back to evict him again on the 17th of April 2015. Mhlanga says that despite the eviction, Patsikadova is in the habit of coming back at night in the presence of hired thugs who throw missiles at the house, destroying window panes and asbestos sheets in the process.

In a spiteful manner, the violence occurs in the presence of Mhlanga’s defenceless minor children who are now evidently psychologically traumatized with one of them now suffering from a chronic headache.

“I am also suffering from physical, emotional and psychological trauma. Apart from this endless torment, Patsikadova left without clearing water and electricity bills now running into thousands of dollars.

“He also removed the septic tank cover, door hinges and window panes as a way of avenging my success at the Courts. Currently, water and raw sewage are sipping into the house, thereby exposing the children to a health time bomb. We reported his actions to the local police who have since reprimanded him,” Mhlanga said.

When contacted for comment, Patsikadova blamed the justice delivery system for dispossessing him of a property which he said he had “laboured tirelessly to pay for after selling livestock and a piece of land in one of the country’s pristine farming areas.”

Asked if he was aware of Patsikadova’s violent behaviour against Mhlanga, Harare police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau said he needed time to check with the local police station and had not given the feedback by the time of going to print.

Mhlanga said despite winning back the house, he had fallen on hard times since he is currently unemployed and depends on the goodwill of well-wishers who help him with groceries and clothes for his family to augment the little income he earns from selling firewood. In addition, he said he was grateful for the good working relationship between ALAC and the police to ensure that he is protected from further abuse by Patsikadova.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende