Businessman Farai Matsika has now run out of any possible legal routes in his battle with his uncle Moses Chingwena for a share of Croco Motors after the Supreme Court rejected a series of applications for condonation of a late appeal, for postponement, for a larger appeal bench and for referral to the Constitutional Court.
The High Court originally ruled when settling the civil case over ownership that Matsika used fabricated documents to try and win a 30 percent share of the company. Matsika decided to appeal but handed in his paperwork late to the Supreme Court, which meant that the appeal could not be entertained and the original judgment stood.
Top avoid a civil dispute carrying on for years, with all that entails when business and other financial decisions are made, Zimbabwean courts have tight deadlines in these matters.
In November last year Matsika approached the Supreme Court to have his late filing of appeal condoned, which is possible in certain circumstances. The single judge hearing that condonation application, Supreme Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, found that there were no grounds for condonation and actually went further in comments on the lack of honesty by Matsika.
Not to be thwarted Matsika then appealed against that decision. This was in time and so the usual three-judge panel that hears appeals, rather than applications on a process, assembled comprising Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza, Justice Joseph Musakwa and Justice Hlekani Mwayera.
Matsika’s case hit a snag early after lawyers acting for Croco Holdings raised a preliminary point on the jurisdiction of the court in such a case. The court after hearing argument unanimously agreed with counsel for Croco Holdings that it had no jurisdiction over the judgment of the judge of the Supreme Court and threw out the appeal.
“The preliminary point raised on the jurisdiction of the court is upheld with costs,” said Deputy Chief Justice Gwaunza declining jurisdiction on the matter. Earlier, Matsika also had three applications for the matter to be heard by five judges, for postponement, and referral to the Constitutional Court all tossed out for lack of merit. This seems to have brought him to the end of the legal journey.
Croco is owned by Matsika’s uncle Moses Chingwena and the two have been embroiled in an acrimonious legal combat over the company’s shareholding structure.
In November last year sometime after Mr Matsika had his appeal against a High Court ruling that he had used fabricated documents in an attempt to wrestle a 30 percent stake in Croco Holdings thrown out by the Supreme Court for a late filing.
The flamboyant businessman had approached the Supreme Court on urgent basis seeking condonation of late filing of appeal, but Justice Bhunu, sitting in his chambers, threw out the case for lack of prospects of success on appeal and criticised Matsika’s sneaky conduct in engineering fraudulent documents to mislead the lower court.
Mr Chingwena and his co-respondents had opposed the application arguing that Matsika was never a shareholder of Croco. They accused Matsika of relying on forged fraudulent documents and challenged him to prove how he had acquired the alleged company shares.
To make matters worse Matsika filed two conflicting CR2 forms.
Justice Bhunu in his ruling noted that these examples of Matsika’s shenanigans portrayed him as a dishonest devious person who was prepared to twist the truth in order to advance his nefarious cause.
“In light of his deceitful character the learned judge a quo cannot be faulted for holding that the applicant’s cause was founded on lies and fraudulent documents,” said the judge adding that Matsika’s conduct in providing fraudulent evidence as demonstrated “elsewhere in this judgment could only aggravate matters to his detriment.”
Justice Bhunu said no fault could be laid at the door of the High Court judge door in his treatment of the substantive issues and verdict.
“In view of the first applicant’s deplorable unbecoming behaviour in manufacturing fraudulent documents to deceive the court, costs at the punitive scale were eminently deserved in the court a quo,” said the judge.
“In the current proceedings before me there is no reason for departure from the general rule that costs follow the result.”
The High Court properly found that Matsika’s application was founded on material falsehoods based on fraudulent documents.
Both the shareholders’ agreement and the share transfer documents were adjudged to be fraudulent documents
In the High Court, Matsika’s entire case was based on documents which he elected not to explain or provide originals.
He was content during the hearing to insist on reliance on copies, even though the copies had been challenged by Mr Chingwena’s lawyer.
His reluctance to furnish the court with original documents meant that the documents remained questionable, and the copies were not sufficient to eliminate the allegation of fraud, according to Justice Owen Tagu, who presided over the matter in the High Court.
The feud between Matsika and Mr Chingwena started in early 2015 after Matsika opted to exit Croco Holdings, saying he felt crowded in decision-making by new senior executives hired by Mr Chingwena.