Professor Welshman Ncube says the claims made by former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and his son, Siqokoqela that he allegedly squandered part of the US$2.9 million share funds received from Choppies Enterprises after they were bought out, are malicious, dishonest and meant to destroy his reputation.
Acting on his behalf, Prof Ncube’s legal team – Webb, Low and Barry, expressed concern and dismay in the manner in which the Mphokos’ had proceeded on the matter when they knew he was not owing them, as they made a payment plan with the “true debtor.”
In a letter dated December 12, to the Mphokos’ legal advisers Ncube and Partners Legal Practitioners, Prof Ncube’s lawyers referred to a meeting held at their office when they produced written instructions from the Mphokos’ to Prof Ncube to pay over the money they were now claiming to the debtor, following a commercial transaction they entered with the debtor.
“The conclusion of our meeting was that you would hold an audience with the debtor and seek that he commits to a payment plan for him to discharge his indebtedness to the Mphokos’. We are advised that after that meeting, you together with your two clients met the debtor in Harare and the four of you agreed to a payment plan in terms of which the debtor was to pay your clients,” said Webb, Low and Barry.
It is after that meeting in Harare, where Mphokos’ legal counsel advised Prof Ncube not to have any further communication with them and also advised him not to deal with the debtor in any way in connection with the debt as they were now in full control of the matter, wishing to be the sole point of contact.
“You also communicated with us that you had reached an understanding and settlement of the matter with the debtor and advised that Prof Ncube was accordingly out of the picture in the matter as you would look to the debtor for the due payment of the debt to the Mphokos’,” said Prof Ncube’s lawyers.
They also said they had in their possession recent communication between Mphokos’ legal counsel and the debtor, where the debtor acknowledges his indebtedness and pleads for more time to settle that debt.
“For example early this week, the debtor sent an email to yourselves, which he copied to us, stating that you had agreed to an extension of time within which he would settle the debt by delivering some fuel tankers to yourselves and that you had abruptly advised him that the Mphoko’s rejected the extension of time and demanded that he settle the debt in full the following day, failure to which you would proceed with litigation,” Webb, Low and Barry noted.
They added that needless to say, the debtor was unable to settle the debt the following day and instead of Mphoko’s lawyers proceeding with litigations against the debtor, they proceeded to issue summons against Prof Ncube.
“The above conduct is unethical, unprofessional and calculative to cause irreparable damage to the good name and reputation of Prof Ncube and he has the right to seek appropriate legal remedies against you and the Mphokos’,” said Prof Ncube’s lawyers.
Webb, Low and Barry also highlighted the lack of professional courtesy and ethics in the manner and circumstances in which the Mphokos’ had issued their summons in December 9.
“Your office went to the High Court registry and had as per practice one copy of the summons date stamped and given a case number to enable you to go the payment office to render payment for the issuance of summons. You did not proceed to make any payment nor did you return to the registry to produce the proof of payment but left the High Court without any process having been issued and circulated to the media, copies of the single copy of the summons which bore the date stamp of the Registrar and allocated case number
“Consequently the media had a field day reporting with all manner of headlines claiming that Prof Ncube had abused and squandered money belonging to your clients. It was not until Wednesday midmorning after having done maximum damage to the reputation of our client that you returned the High Court registry and paid for the issuance of the summons which then was only issued on Wednesday December 11 with a date stamp for that day, whereas the unissued summons you had caused to be released to the media bore the date stamp of Monday, 9 December.”
Webb, Low and Barry said such conduct illustrated the malicious intent against Prof Ncube, both the Mphokos’ and their lawyers knew was owed by someone else who freely admits to it, having undertaken to pay the debt and seeking more time.
“On our part we are appalled at the unethical and unprofessional manner in which you have gone out of your way to tarnish the reputation of our client. We now await service of the issued summons on us. We advise and confirm that we have full authority to receive and be served with the summons. We thus ask you cause the summons be served immediately so that we can procced to protect and defend our client’s interests,” summed Prof Ncube’s lawyers.