The High Court in Lilongwe has dismissed an application by the uncles and aunts of judge Zione Ntaba for the court to put a temporary stop to the order reversing sale of a deceased estate.
Zione Ntaba, a judge of the High Court of Malawi based in Zomba, claimed that the house in Lilongwe was fraudulently sold against the wishes of her late father, George Maurice Justice Ntaba.
In his judgement in June this year, High Court judge Charles Mkandawire faulted the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president (Central Region) Dr Hetherwick Ntaba, who was an executor, for maladministration of the deceased estate.
The court found that Dr Ntaba and the Adminstrator General, as executors of the estate ,violated a clause in the deceased’s will by giving the house to brothers and sisters of the deceased because there was an express wish that any mortgaged house should not be sold, but the income from the property declared and distributed between beneficiaries.
The defendants—Maxwell Ntaba, Jean Ntaba, Emily Ntaba and William Ntaba—were dissatisfied with the June judgement and feared that Zione Ntaba would sell the house before their appeal is heard.
The defendants applied for a stay of execution of the judgment on three grounds, among them that if successful their appeal on the order to handover the house to Zione Ntaba would be rendered no longer applicable.
“…that in any event it will be costly and time consuming to reverse any transaction that might be done by the plaintiff pursuant to the execution of the judgment herein,” the defendants argued.
But Zione Ntaba opposed the application on the grounds that the defendants had not demonstrated that their appeal had any prospects of success.
She also argued that her uncles and aunts had not demonstrated, with evidence, that their appeal would be rendered nugatory (not applicable) if the stay was granted and that the house would always be there even if ownership changed from Namata to someone else.
In his order after hearing both sides, Mkandawire said the court could grant a stay of execution where the appeal would be rendered nugatory or the appellant, in this case the uncles and aunts, would suffer loss and could not be compensated with damages.
But he said in this case, the facts and submissions indicated that the appeal would not suffer if the June judgement was carried out.
The judgement on which Zione Ntaba’s uncles and aunts are appealing revoked the letters of administration which they obtained “fraudulently” and ordered the Commissioner of Lands to cancel them as owners of the Lilongwe house.
Zione Ntaba was appointed administrator of her father’s estate in 2009, replacing Dr Ntaba and the Administrator General after which she embarked on an inquiry of the deceased estate.
But barely a month after Zione Ntaba obtained an order restraining any dealings on the house without consent from her, her uncles and aunts obtained letters of administration and sold the house to Namata not long after. n