THE Voluntary Separatees Association of Zambia (VSA) has sued Lusaka lawyer Robson Malipenga, demanding over K104 million his law firm received on their behalf from the Ministry of Justice.
According to an affidavit in support of summons for inquiry and account filed in the Lusaka High Court on January 9, 2020 by association national chairperson Syachoke Simemeza on behalf of 3, 523 others, Malipenga is alleged to have received a total of K104, 041, 778.91.
Simemeza, of plot number 32, Chamba Valley in Lusaka, is being represented by lawyers from M. Associates.
He contended that when the matter commenced over eight years ago, the VSA was being represented by Messrs Lukona Chambers.
Simemeza submitted that sometime in 2012 when the group slit into many factions, they were represented by Messrs Henry Chanda and Company, Dindi and Company, and Okware and Company, among other law firms.
He stated that during their time with these law firms, they used to receive spreadsheets of accounts of the funds disbursed by the Ministry of Justice and how those funds were disbursed to individual recipients.
Simemeza, who was at the time general secretary of the association, affirmed that some time in 2014, the VSA decided to move all litigants to Messrs Robson Malipenga and Company for purposes of receiving their funds, and so that the same funds could be managed by one law firm at a commission fee of 10 per cent.
Simemeza stated that he later resigned from his position after being displeased with the failure by Robson Malipenga and Company to account for the funds.
He stated that the law firm further introduced illegal deductions, coupled with massive misappropriation of client funds.
Simemeza stated that he was aware that from 2014 to December 2019, the Ministry of Justice had released K79,403,112.93 to Robson Malipenga and Company.
He stated that further, in 2015, the Ministry paid about K15,609,758.30 into court, which was paid out of court by the said law firm.
Simemeza stated that in 2016, the ministry again paid into court further amounts exceeding or equal to K4,678,756.18.
He stated that in 2017 there were further payments paid by the Ministry of Justice into court and paid out of court to Robson Malipenga and Company amounting to about K1,900, 000.00.
Simemeza stated that in 2018, the Ministry paid a further released K2,450,151.50, to the same law firm, which it has ignored, neglected, and refused to account for.
He stated that prior to 2018, the said funds were in excess of K104,041,778.91.
Simemeza stated that Malipenga’s law firm had neither accounted for nor paid out the said funds to thousands of litigants, including the 950 litigants now under M Associates.
He stated that he was aware that there were 744 other litigants in this action who had never received their money from Robson Malipenga and Company since 2014.
Simemeza stated that those litigants could not move with his team in the litigation because some were dead while others were unaware of what was going on.
He stated that sometime in 2018, he wrote to Robson Malipenga and Company to account for the amounts received from the Ministry of Justice but that the law firm refused to do so.
Simemeza stated that he sued in the Ndola High Court but his case was dismissed for abuse of process and advised him to issue summons for accounts in the current cause as opposed to starting a fresh action.
He stated that on or about April 19, 2018, he and others filed a notice of change of advocates from Messrs Robson Malipenga and Company to Messrs M Associates.
Simemeza stated that, however, on or about May 24, 2019, Lusaka High Court judge Sharon Newa set aside the notice of change and directed them to write letters of change and refile the notice.
He stated that later, their group was divided among various law firms, leaving his team of 950 people under M Associates.
He alleged that some officials in the Ministry of Justice had a bias towards and were colluding with Messrs Robson Malipenga and Company to disadvantage him and his colleagues that had moved to M Associates and Kumasonde and Company.
Simemeza stated that unless ordered by the court, both the Ministry of Justice and Malipenga’s law firm would not furnish him with genuine information about what money has been disbursed from January 2014 to December 2019.
And according to the Summons of Inquiry and Account filed on January 9, 200, Simemeza and others are demanding, among other things, an order against the Ministry of Justice to account for the disbursement of the funds to Messrs Robson Malipenga and Company from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2019.
“(2) An Order against Messrs Robson Malipenga and Company to provide a reconciling account (spreadsheet) of the disbursement of the Judgment debt aforesaid with supporting evidence to the individual beneficiaries for the period 1st January 2014 to 31st December 2019,” stated the summons.
“(3) An Order for an Audit of the disbursed Judgment Debt in Messrs Robson Malipenga and Company client Account by an Accounting firm registered by the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accounts (ZICA) and rendering a report to the Court. (4) An Order for the Judgment Debtor (Defendant) or Messrs Malipenga and Company to pay what sums are attributable to the Concerned 950 Plaintiffs now under Messrs M Associates from 1st January, 2014 to 31st December, 2019. (5) An Order or Directive to the Judgment Debtor (The Defendant) to pay future sums attributable to the 950 Judgment Creditors through Messrs M Associates; (6) Costs for this application be borne by the Defendant (the Judgment Debtor) On grounds and reasons set out in the affidavit filed herein.”