Bulawayo High Court judges deliver conflicting judgments
TWO Bulawayo High Court judges last week delivered conflicting judgments on a similar matter involving an Egyptian woman locked in a series of legal battles with a city lawyer and a curator over unpaid legal and curator fees of nearly $200 000.
Ms Gamila Atwa Ibrahim Youssef El Zont, who is an executor for the estate of the late prominent Bulawayo dermatologist, Dr John Manolakakis, is being sued by Ms Manala Loveness Motsi and Advocate Hilda Moyo for allegedly refusing to pay curator fees and legal taxation costs.
The contradictory rulings by Justice Martin Makonese and Justice Lawrence Kamocha follow two separate urgent chamber applications filed by Ms Motsi and Adv Moyo.
The two applicants both sought an order stripping Gamila Atwa Ibrahim Youssef El Zont of her status.
Justice Makonese dismissed Ms Motsi’s application for an order to suspend Ms Youssef El Zont from being the executor of Dr Manolakakis’s estate and interdicting her from conducting any dealings related to the estate.
The dispute between Ms Motsi and Ms Youssef El Zont is over payment of $ 65 000 in curator’s fees.
Ms Motsi was appointed curator bonis in the estate of the late doctor on November 12, 2014 in terms of the Administration of Estates Act. Ms Youssef El Zont was subsequently appointed executor by the Master of the High Court two months ago.
“The issue I raised with the applicant’s (Ms Motsi) counsel is why an order is being sought for first respondent (Ms Youssef El Zont) to be removed as executrix dative when essentially the dispute is over payment of the curator’s fees, which are in the sum of $65 044,25,” said Justice Makonese.
Ms Youssef El Zont argued that the curator’s fees were too high and likely to deprive the beneficiaries of any financial benefit.
In dismissing the application, Justice Makonese said the application was an attempt by Ms Motsi to prevent the winding up of the estate.
“In my view, the Master of the High Court ought to have the curator’s fees properly taxed and that is the remedy the applicant is entitled to. The matter does not deserve to be treated on an urgent basis as this dispute over the curator fees has been ongoing since May 2016, and accordingly the application be and is hereby dismissed,” ruled the judge.
On the other hand, Justice Kamocha interdicted Ms Youssef El Zont, the Master of the High Court and the Registrar of Deeds from continuing with the administration, winding up and distribution of the estate pending the finalisation of the matter.
He also blocked the respondents from selling, ceding or transferring both movable and immovable assets of the estate.
The properties include a piece of land in Bulawayo measuring 694 square metres and two stands at Ascot.
Adv Moyo and Ms Youssef El Zont are locked in legal wrangle over unpaid legal costs. Adv Moyo is demanding $120 000 in taxed legal costs incurred in matters between the late Ms Maris Manolakakis, who was mother to the late doctor versus estate John Manolakakis and five others under case number HC2226/08 and Mr Robert Malcom McGilivray Bowes and others versus Maria Manolakakis under case number SC356/14.
Dr Manolakakis, who was Greek and based in Egypt, arrived in Zimbabwe in the late 1980s and set up medical practice in Bulawayo until his death.
At the time of his death, he stayed with a girlfriend, Ms Evangelia Patrinos.
Soon after his death, a will dated June 3, 2005, was found at his house. According to the will purportedly signed by the late doctor, it was alleged that he bequeathed his entire estate in Zimbabwe, Greece and South Africa to Ms Patrinos.
Ms Patrinos was subsequently appointed executrix testamentary in the estate of Dr Manolakakis. She however, later died on November 11, 2008 in Greece which subsequently culminated in a series of legal battles over Dr Manolakakis’ estate. — @mashnets