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Late judge’s children in legal battle over estate admin

LATE Kitwe High Court judge Isaac Chibulu Tantameni Chali’s two biological children have sued the executor of their father’s estate in the High Court seeking an order that he accounts for his activities and the proceeds of the estate.

And Chitalu Tantameni Chali and Bwalya Chali have sued Isaac Chali Jr, seeking an order of interim injunction to restrain him from administering or interfering in the estate of late judge Chali.

Chitalu, who is an advocate, and her brother Bwalya stated that they were beneficiaries of the estate of the late judge.

In an affidavit in support of summons for an order of interim injunction filed in the principal registry on September 11, Chitalu of Farm No VV/F/14 69 in Kitwe stated that she was duly authorised by Bwalya, who is the second applicant to swear the affidavit.

She stated that judge Chali left a valid Will dated December 20, 2005 and that in the Will, Chali Jr was appointed executor and trustee of the estate of the deceased.

Chitalu stated that Chali Jr after being appointed executor and trustee by the Will proceeded to obtain grant of probate on May 8, 2018.

She stated that despite the clear and unambiguous instruction contained in the Will, Chali Jr has refused to carry out his statutory duties as stated in the Will.

“The respondent (Chali Jr) had made various claims, without providing any justification, that he is the sole beneficiary to the estate and threatened that he will ensure that no one gets any share from the estate,” Chitalu said. “Despite the passage of time and numerous intervention and counselling from various friends and family members, the respondent’s conduct has not changed.”

She further stated that Chali Jr’s conduct and the manner in which he had chosen to administer the estate was a source of great concern to all the beneficiaries.

“By way of background, prior to the death of my father, I lived with him at his farm VV/F/1469 in Kalulushi. After his death, the respondent attempted to evict me from the family house where I had been residing with the deceased prior to his demise, alleging that I was in illegal occupation, ” Chitalu added.

She stated that while she was working from out of town, Chali Jr went to the farm on May 19 this year in the company of some other persons and attempted to have a cousin, Selita Bwalya, who was a dependant of the deceased, arrested for what he termed illegal occupation of the house.

Chitalu stated that Chali Jr was turned away by two police officers from Chibuluma Police Post, but he left a notice instructing her to vacate the house within 30 days.

She stated also that Chali Jr reported her and Bwalya to the police in Ndola and call outs were issued against them.

Chitalu further stated that when the duo appeared at Ndola Central Police Station on May 21, they were informed that they had acted fraudulently.

“Upon responding to the respondent’s allegations of fraud against the second applicant and myself and accounting for the K70,000 funeral grant and K32,000 withdrawn from the deceased ‘s account, the second applicant and I were released to the displeasure of the respondent,” she said.

Chitalu also stated that Chali Jr, in the presence of two officers, again made claims that he was the sole beneficiary to the estate and threatened that he would make sure that the applicants do not get anything from the estate.

And Chitalu stated that Chali Jr for no valid reason threatened that he would see to it that she was disbarred from practising law as an advocate and that he filed a complaint with the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) Legal Practitioners Committee.

She stated that despite numerous pleas for Chali Jr to engage and consult family members in the conduct of his duties, he has refused to do so and has allegedly made various decisions that are not in the best interest of the estate.

Chitalu added that Chali Jr closed judge Chali’s account held at Standard Chartered Bank and transferred the monies to his suspected personal account and that despite numerous requests, the respondent had refused to give them details of expenditure and to furnish them with information regarding the balances on the account.

She stated that despite Chali Jr having access to monies belonging to the estate, he has completely neglected the agricultural activities that went on at the farm bringing the business to a standstill and has not been paying the farm attendants their wages.

Chitalu stated that it was clear from Chali Jr’s conduct that his actions were motivated by greed and a clear misunderstanding of his role and that she was deeply concerned that the respondent would continue to mismanage the estate and misappropriate assets that would come into his care, which would lead to irreparable loss and damage to the estate and would be to the detriment of all other beneficiaries.

Chitalu added that the respondent had shown signs of being unfit to administer the estate entrusted to him and that she was not averse to the court appointing a neutral person as an administrator to properly administer the estate.

The applicants are further seeking an order for the preservation of the assets comprising the estate of the late judge until the respondent accounts for all the assets he had been administering from the date of the death of judge Chali to date.

The applicants also want an order for the revocation of letters of probate granted to Chali Jr on May 8 subject to the determination of the matter and his removal as the executor of the estate.

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