Home Seekers To Lose Their Stands After High Court Orders Sharpe’s To Vacate Pomona Land
By Court Reporter
HARARE – Home seekers who bought residential stands in Pomona through Ken Sharpe’s owned Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) listed West Property Holdings (WestPro) risk losing out after the High Court ordered the sale of the property to recover a debt.
WestPro, which was built by businessman Ken Sharpe from vast tracts of land earned from the controversial Harare Airport Road deal, was only listed on the VFEX on May 5 after disputes over a failure to make full legal report disclosures on its prospectus bid.
High Court Judge Justice Nyaradzo Munanganti-Munongwa ordered that WestPro’s land in Pomona worth US$105 million, constituting more than 50% of its VFSE listing, must be attached and sold to resolve the debt dispute with a local contractor.
Munangati-Munongwa’s ruling followed a case by a Harare based construction company Fairclot Investments, which was challenging Sharpe’s Augur Investments’ move to pay for the payment of a US$4.8 million debt for the construction of the Airport Road in local currency using a 1:1 rate to the US dollar after the introduction of Statutory Instrument 33 of 2019.
WestPro is an offshoot of Augur Investments after taking over assets belonging to Sharpe’s company, including land earned from the Harare City Council for the unfinished Harare Airport Road project.
Fairclot Investments successfully challenged the upliftment of the attachment on the property by the Sheriff of the High Court on the pretext that the debt had been cleared after the payment of $4.8 million in the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) currency.
“The upliftment of the judicial attachment on Stand 654 Pomona Township be declared void,” part of Justice Munangati-Munongwa read.
“Stand No. 654 Pomona Township be and is hereby placed under judicial attachment.
“Any and all transfers of title effected between the date of upliftment of judicial attachment by the second respondent to the date of this order are hereby cancelled.”
Sharpe recently said WestPro has sold 300 residential stands in Pomona out of the expected 500 and according to the ruling, all the new landowners risk losing their properties.
In a cautionary Statement produced by Scanlen and Holderness on 11 May, WestPro said “adequate contingencies have been put in place should the appeal not be successful” and there the company was confident that there shall be no negative impact on stakeholders, customers and shareholders.
Fairclot was the applicant, while Augur Investments and the sheriff of the High Court were the first and second respondents.
The ruling said: “The Registrar of Deeds be and is hereby directed to cancel the transfer of title effected on Stand No. 654 Pomona Township held under Deed of Grant No. 2884/10 after 10 days of the granting of this order.
“The second respondent is hereby directed to advertise for the sale of Stand 654 Pomona Township, held under Deed of Grant No.2884/10 within 10 days of this order.”
However, WestPro, through Chinawa Law Chambers, has noted a Supreme Court appeal against the High Court ruling that was delivered on May 9, a day before Scanlen and Holderness renounced agency in representing Sharpe and his companies in a case where Fairclot is seeking to interdict WestPro from selling stands from Pomona.
Over 300 residents who had bought land from the property risk losing their properties should the ruling again go against the company.
Stanford Moyo, from Scanlen and Holderness, produced the litigation report in the prospectus used by WesPro to list on the VFSE.
The lawyers were forced to produce a supplementary litigation report after lawyers representing businessman George Katsimberis and four companies approached the United States-denominated bourse accusing WestPro of failing to disclose all its cases active before the court as was the requirement before listing.
Sharpe’s company Augur Investments entered into a contract agreement with Fairclot Investments trading as Truck and Construction Private Limited (T&C Construction) for the construction of the Airport Road and was offered part of Stand Number 654 Pomona Township as collateral.
After constructing 2.7 km of the road, a dispute over payment arose and Fairclot downed tools. Augur offered Fairclot stand 654 as collateral and title deeds were held in escrow by Couglan, Welsh and Guest.
The dispute was sent for arbitration and Fairclot won.
However, following the promulgation of the controversial Statutory Instrument 33 of 2019 which declared that debts owed in US dollars could be settled in local RTGS at a rate of 1:1, Augur Investments transferred ZWL$4.8 Million and ZWL$1 078 040.21 as the principal and interest to Fairclot Investments.
This resulted in the sheriff of the High Court lifting the attachment of the stand, which was then transferred to Doorex, a shelf company owned by Augur, despite protest by Fairclot’s lawyers.
This was despite that the title deed remained under the custody of Coughlan, Welsh and Guest.
Munangati-Monongwa ruled that the decision of the sheriff of the High Court to uplift the judicial attachment on Stand 654 Pomona Township, which was held under Deed of Grant 2884/10 be set aside.
However Sharpe is not new to controversy as he is also accused of stealing vast tracks of prime land in Harare fraudulently.