Biggie Matiza widow’s efforts to elbow step son from estate hits snag

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By Mary Taruvinga, Senior Reporter

SPIRITED efforts by the late transport minister, Joel Biggie Matiza’s widow, Lilian, to leave out his 34 year-old son as a beneficiary to the politician ‘s estate have backfired.

Matiza succumbed to Covid-19 in January last year.

Lilian had taken her stepson, Tendai Muchando, to court, seeking an order compelling him to do DNA tests.

This was after Muchando wrote to her asking to be included as a beneficiary in Matiza’s estate following his demise.

The widow demanded DNA tests in order to ascertain whether Muchando was Matiza’s son and a beneficiary.

Muchando claims that he is Matiza’s biological son born to Matiza and Rosemary Muchando in 1987.

Lilian insisted on a DNA, despite the fact that two DNA tests were done long back, concluding that Matiza was the biological father.

She insisted that Matiza had always disputed paternity.

Two court orders were given to this effect after tests done locally and in South Africa concluded a 99, 85 percent probability of paternity.

High court judge, Justice Neville Wamambo, accused the widow of feigning ignorance on the matter, despite having full knowledge that previous tests were done at Matiza’s insistence.

Lilian had refused to use two previous test results for execution’s processes, claiming that the results were manufactured.

She also said she was not aware of the results, yet the tests were done at Matiza’s insistence.

The court also heard that for some unmentioned reasons, the late politician had withdrawn a High Court application regarding paternity.

Aware of all this, Lilian tried to have Muchando tested again against his will.

Wamambo dismissed her application and slammed her for feigning ignorance.

The judge, however, encouraged parties to bring to an end the paternity dispute which has taken center stage for the past 34 years.

Muchando had challenged Lilian, arguing that he had already gone through DNA tests.

He also said it would be unfair to get tests done using samples of his father’s children because results might not be conclusive.

The High Court upheld his concerns.

“DNA tests necessarily involve the extraction of bodily tissue. Batsirai does not consent to this invasion. I find that he is protected by s 52(e) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and can, thus, not be forced to undergo a DNA test,” said the judge.

“I have to point out at the outset that Lilian and her sons (cited as applicants) have not been candid to the court. In many respects, they have skirted the truth or deliberately failed to elicit a number of issues raised by Muchando.

“They deliberately underplay and question the authenticity of the DNA results done on first respondent in 1997 and 1998. I am aware that in this application, I am not asked to decide on the authenticity or otherwise of Muchando’s DNA results. What I find astounding is for applicants to pretend as if the results were deliberately created by Muchando.

“There appears to be a deliberate play to feign ignorance or question the origins of the DNA tests.

“All this is but a facade,” said the judge.

It is on record that Lilian became aware of the results in 2001, a year after she got married to Matiza.

“It thus becomes clear that the DNA tests conducted and encapsulated were done at the insistence of Mutiza.

“For applicants to feign ignorance of the same is clearly misplaced and misleading,” said Wamambo.

The court heard that Muchando was born on 28 November 1987.

When he turned 10,  blood samples were obtained from his mother and Matiza.

Probability of paternity was 99,82%.

“Red cell grouping and HLA typing do not exclude Mr Biggie Joel Matiza from paternity of the child Tendai Muchando. A 99,82% probability of paternity means paternity is practically proven”, read the results by Doctor ME Chitiyo, a medical director, under cover of the National Blood Transfusion Service Zimbabwe letterhead.

The other results showed the probability of paternity at 99,85%.

In this regard, the judge ruled that Muchando stood on firm ground when he resisted the application.

“There is clearly a need for finality to the issue. There are, to my mind, other ways in which applicants, or respondents can bring a conclusion to the dispute if so advised.

“In the circumstances however. I find the application unmeritorious.

“The application be and is hereby dismissed with costs, “ ruled the judge.