Tenants at Kwa Koefman, a property in the narrow gap between the old town of Harare and old Mbare, have approached the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) over suspicion that some individuals might be corruptly pocketing rentals belonging to the late original owner.
“Kwa Koefman” or “Koefman’s Corner” was owned by Mr Samuel Koefman, but reports suggest that the title deeds are still in his name, even 89 years after his death.
The late businessman died in January 1933 and now his children have also died, yet monthly rents in excess of US$20 000 are being collected by many different people, a development that confused the tenants and created suspicions of fraud.
Normally a property moves into the ownership of the heirs, either those in the will or to family members if there is no will, within a few months and almost always within a year.
ZACC spokesperson, Commissioner John Makamure, confirmed receiving the potentially criminal report, saying investigations were underway.
Mr Koefman, who was born in Poland and was a naturalised citizen of the US, operated his businesses in Zimbabwe, including tobacco processing.
Mr Koefman’s children are also dead and the estate was left hanging until 2015 when it was resuscitated using a non-existent file number DR41/73. That would imply a file opened in early 1973.
The property, which is about 3ha, has commercial structures being leased out to almost 100 tenants paying an average monthly rent of US$200 each.
However, it is not clear who was benefiting from the collected funds over the years considering that all the businessman’s known relatives had died.
It also remains unclear whether the taxman was getting a share from the property business because receipts were being issued in the names of at least nine different companies, five of which were unregistered.
Things to note:
1). Without seeing the said 1973 deceased estate file (DR41/73) officers at the Master of High Court opened a dummy record with a new file number DR600/15, a 2015 number, on the understanding that the 1973 file was now at the National Archives.
2). A check with the National Archives revealed that the cited DR 41/73 had nothing to do with Mr Samuel Koeffman.
3). The High Court granted an order for the appointment of Mr Edward Mark Warhaust as the executor of the estate on the basis of incorrect citation of the 1973 file.
4). The officer who opened the replacement file at the Master of High Court’s office did so without having sight of this 1973 file (DR41/73) that was relied upon in resuscitating the estate case.
5). According to the newly opened file, the beneficiaries reportedly agreed to have the properties transferred into a company called AngelB Properties Private Limited. The beneficiaries’ existence and relation to the late Mr Koefman are not apparently clear.
6). AngelB was registered with the Registrar of Companies in 2016 but its file was empty and cannot even show who the directors are.
7). Information gathered by The Herald shows that prior to the 2015 manoeuvres over the estate, tenants at Koefman area were issued with different receipts showing the following different companies:
i). Mercrust Investments Private Limited,
ii). Mexapower Investments Private Limited,
iii). Inhurst Private Limited,
iv). Zimtrail Investments Private Limited,
v). Harville Investments Private Limited,
vi). Vascro Investments Private Limited,
vii). Hacksaw Investments Private Limited,
viii). Mupani Trust and Erlibank Investments Private Limited.
Only four of the above companies were registered. These four companies, all registered on the same date in 2014, are:
a). Inhurst Investments,
b). Zimtrail Investments,
c). Harville Investments and
d). Hacksaw Investments.
Three names of people — Luke Edward Matthew Ngwerume, Francis Chivhenge and Harvey Armstrong Leared — appear on each of the four companies’ CR14 documents as directors.
The other five companies, according to the Registrar of Companies, are not registered and those who were benefiting from the monthly rentals are still not known.
Mr Koefman owned a number of other properties which have been transferred into other names. He once owned:
1). Stand 2382 Salisbury Township but it was transferred to his now late son Benjamin Koefman in 1947 and that property, according to records at the Deeds Office, was taken over by the administrators of Benjamin’s estate when he died.
2). Stand Number 2382 Salisbury, which was once owned by Samuel Koefmann, is now a property of AIK Investments Private Limited through a deed transfer dated June 28, 1954.
3). Stand Number 600 Salisbury, previously owned by Samuel Keofman is now being managed by the Management Committee of the Local Authorities Pension Fund through a 1989 deed transfer.
But at the Deeds Office, kwaKoefman remains the property of man dead for 89 years.
More: The Herald