Three family members have dragged late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s Bineth Trust to court over ownership of an estate the trust acquired in Kasungu in 2005.

According to court documents sourced from Lilongwe High Court registry, Sangwani Kalinga, Lombani Kalinga and Temwapo Kalinga through lawyer, Gift Nankhuni, on 13 November last year took the matter of the ownership of Sangwani Estate to court.

The estate is to the west of Kasungu, in the area of Senior Chief Lukwa. The plaintiffs are the administrators of the estate, which belonged to their father, the late Anthony Arden Kalinga who died in February, 1999.

Registered Trustees of Bineth Trust, the estate of the late Mutharika, former first lady Callista Mutharika and people currently living on the land, are defendants in the case.

The three family members would like the court to grant them an order against the defendants declaring them to be the owners of the Estate, whose title deed number is 49172 registered at the Deeds Registry.

They are also demanding damages for loss of use of the estate, to be assessed and paid by the Mutharikas and Bineth Trust to them.

They would also like the court to issue an order of injunction restraining the defendants from continuing to be on Sangwani Estate and an order charging the defendants the cost of the action.

In a claim dated November 12, 2012, the Kalingas say the late Mutharika entered the land in 2005, when their brother, Lombani, was severely sick.

“The late President Bingu wa Mutharika in or about the same year 2005 entered the said land without the licence or consent of the plaintiffs and other beneficiaries and personal representatives of the estate of Late Anthony Arden Kalinga.

The 2nd plaintiff [Lombani Kalinga] upon his health improving tried to get the said land but was threatened by the late President Bingu wa Mutharika and his late wife Ethel Mutharika that they were going to deal with him severely if he persisted with his efforts, which made the plaintiffs very afraid as the late President Bingu wa Mutharika was then sitting president,” reads the statement of claim.

It adds that the Kalingas were unable to make any claims on their family estate until after the death of Mutharika.

“The late President Bingu wa Mutharika abused his status as president of the nation of Malawi and also took advantage of the severe illness of the 2nd plaintiff to encroach and forcibly remain on the said Sangwani Estate,” continues the statement.

But in a response to the claim, dated January 9, 2013, Nicholls and Brookes, lawyers for Bineth Trust deny that the Kalingas suffered loss or that they are entitled to the reliefs they claim.

“The defendants state that the said Sangwani Estate was sold to the 2nd defendant (Estate of late Mutharika), which later became part of the property owned by the 1st defendant by way of operation of a Trust and the same was sold by the 1st plaintiff (Sangwani) who approached the late Dr Bingu wa Mutharika through Chief Lukwa,” reads the document.

In the document, the defence state that Mutharika did not enter the land illegally, saying the Kalinga family sold the said estate at a price of K8,000,000.00, part of which was paid to Standard Bank to clear their debts and that the remainder was shared among them.

However, according to a letter dated 6 December 2012 from Chief Lukwa to Nankhuni and Partners, the chief denied any involvement in the transaction.

“Please take note that both Chief Kawamba and I as senior chief of this area to the west of Kasungu have no knowledge of any transaction regarding change of ownership of Sangwani Estate. The said estate was acquired by deceit and threats by the late state president Bingu wa Mutharika. The claimants, Sangwani Kalinga, Lombani Kalinga and Temwapo Kalinga as the rightful children of the late Anthony A Kalinga have the legal right to claim back their father’s estate. Please, assist,” reads a letter in a court file, written by a D.A Chilunjika on behalf of Senior Chief Lukwa.

The application is expected to enter summary judgement at a date yet to be set.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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