By James Muonwa
THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has found top Kwekwe-based lawyer, James Magodora guilty of misconduct after he allegedly falsely claimed to have represented a client in a property dispute.
The complainant in the matter is Kundai Nyamukondiwa, who is one of the scores of property owners at Sabonabona in Kadoma, who are resisting eviction and are pushing to be issued title deeds to the land sold to them by a now evasive land developer.
Magodora is alleged to have falsely claimed to be Nyamukondiwa’s lawyer, and that of many other affected residents in the wrangle when in actual fact he was never instructed by her to act as her attorney.
LSZ executive secretary, Edward Mapara last week wrote to Magodora informing him of the outcome of a tribunal set up to investigate the alleged unprofessional conduct.
“Council noted that By-Law 3 (36) of the Legal Practitioners’ Code of Conduct SI 37 of 2018 was clear that it was an act of professional misconduct to act for a client based on instructions from a third party,” Mapara’s letter to Magodora reads in part.
“Council resolved that you be found guilty of unprofessional conduct for acting on instructions from a third party without satisfying yourself that the person issuing such instructions had proper authority and that you be asked to mitigate.”
He further wrote: “You are required to file your submissions in mitigation pending sentence (if any) within the next 14 days of this letter. Failure of which council will deliberate on sentence without further reference to you.”
The latest misconduct against the top lawyer came to light when Sabonabona residents resolved to negotiate with Balwearie Holdings, who took over as the owners of the disputed property.
Residents learnt that Magodora had filed responses on their behalf without their knowledge or instructions, but he argues he was instructed to act on everyone’s behalf by the one Noel Muza.
Magodora, a former Kwekwe magistrate and senior partner at his law firm, is not new to controversy.
He appeared in court last June facing allegations of converting to personal use money deposited into his trust account by a client who wanted to buy a plot along Chiwundura road in Kwekwe.
The prominent lawyer was dragged before Masvingo Magistrate Patience Madondo charged with stealing trust property totalling US$16 485.
Onias Chingombe, a former Masvingo City councillor, was the complainant in the matter.
The state case was that Chingombe made the payment to Magodora on behalf of her daughter, who is based in the United Kingdom.
The prosecution alleged that sometime in September 2016, Chingombe’s daughter saw an advert for the sale of Plot number 43 Rosslin Farm, Kwekwe belonging to Benjamin Mahlatini.
She consulted her lawyer Tichaona Bhunu of Bhunu and Associates to assist her in purchasing the advertised 10-hectare plot and the seller (Mahlatini) consulted Magodora who owns Magodora and Company Legal Practitioners to assist him in selling the plot.
On October 11, 2016, using the power of attorney granted him by her daughter, Chingombe transferred US$16 485 into Magodora’s CBZ Bank trust account.
The money was supposed to be given to Mahlatini for the payment of the plot. The money reflected in Magodora’s account the following day, according to court records.
However, Chingombe and Mahlatini failed to reach an agreement on the transfer of the plot allegedly after Magodora changed details in the draft agreement.
The lawyer failed to release the money into Mahlatini’s account despite Mahlatini being the owner of the said stand.
Chingombe made a police report leading to a warrant of arrest for Magodora after several attempts by the complainant to get a refund since 2016 proved futile.