The Lusaka High Court says UPND President Hakainde Hichilema is the rightful owner of kalomos farm number 1924 and has since dismissed with costs the matter in which the opposition leader had been dragged to court for criminal trespass and fraudulent acquisition of the said farm.
Mr. Hichilema through his lawyer Marshal Mucheende of M and associates had asked the court to dismiss the matter for being statute barred as it was brought way after the statutory 12 year period in which a matter of such nature can be brought before court.
In her ruling, High Court Judge Catherine Lombe Phiri said it was folly for the plaintiff to expect the court to believe that she was not aware of the defendants activities of fencing the said property and placing his workers on it to show the extent of its acquisition while Ministry of Lands documents have proven that the parties were aware of the transaction in 2005.
Judge Lombe Phiri said she finds the version of the plaintiff with regards to the transaction not only conflicting but also confusing hence her reliance on the version by the defendant which is backed by documents and find that the plaintiffs were in fact aware of the transfer of the property to the defendant whether by themselves or through the late Bernard Mazuba in 2005.
The court further found that in the event that the plaintiffs were not party to the transaction,they would have with reasonable diligence discovered the alleged fraud as the particulars of the transaction were available in a public register at the Ministry of Lands and had a duty as the Administrator of the Estate for the late Samson Siatembo to properly administer it to avoid dilapidation.
The Judge said the plaintiffs sat on their rights and has come too late in the day to attempt to stop the running of time by relying on fraud and added that section 26 of the limitation Act in relation to fraud and misrepresentation is clear as it provides that there ought to have been some reasonable diligence on the part of the plaintiff in order that fraud be relied upon hence not appropriate for her to rely on the said piece of law.
Judge Lombe Phiri in dismissing the matter said the right to sue rose in 2005 in accordance with section 4 and 10 of the Limitations Act hence dismissing it for being statute barred as it has been brought 16 years after instead of the mandatory 12 years.
The plaintiffs Pheluna Hatembo and Milton Hatembo were represented by Counsel L Mumba of Fred Jere and Company whose managing partner is Grandview International Proprietor Bokani Soko.