Senior lawyer Puwayi Chiutsi faces possible deregistration after a tribunal set up to investigate allegations of misconduct leveled against him, including fraud, concluded that he violated the legal practitioners’ code.
Chiutsi, who registered as a lawyer in 1992, ran into trouble when the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) instituted a probe following accusations he knowingly sold land that had been repossessed from him by the Sheriff of the High Court.
He also faced a slew of charges brought by High Court Judge Justice David Mangota, Elliot Rogers, and Elliot Mazhindu.
Justice Mangota accused Chiutsi of defeating the ends of justice by forging an affidavit in a matter he was hearing.
Rogers reported him for allegedly abusing funds he was holding in trust on his behalf while Mazhindu accused him of forcible removal from a house he was renting, which belonged to his mother.
The tribunal, chaired by Justice Felistus Chatukuta, found that in the case of Chiutsi’s repossessed land known as Remainder of Subdivision C of Lot 6, Highlands Estate, the lawyer sold it well aware that it was under judicial attachment.
The Sherriff had attached the property in 2017 and sold it to Bariadie Investments.
“He was aware that the property had been sold in execution. He had filed numerous applications into the High Court and the Supreme Court to have the sale set aside and was unsuccessful in all instances,” said Chatukuta.
“The respondent is a principal in his firm and has been practicing for 19 years. His defense that the property was his because it had not yet been transferred into the name of the purchaser smacked of disdain of the law.”
The panel said Chiutsi was “aware of processes and the contention that it was proper to sell Elliot Rogers property without removing caveats was not proper while it was correct for him to do the same to his property with the same shows that he was conflicted.”
“In any event, he lied to the tribunal that he had discharged the judgment debt when he sold the property. The property was sold to Tendai Mashamhanda on January 25, 2019. He failed to prove that as at that far he has paid Elliot Rogers the full amount due including costs which were part of the order against him,” the tribunal said, adding Chiutsi’s conduct “brings the name of the legal profession into disrepute.”
Mashamhanda’s Mashwede Holdings bought the property for $230,000 cash after the accused made an affidavit saying it had no mortgages or any encumbrances.
“The applicant (LSZ) adequately proved that the respondent’s conduct was unprofessional, dishonorable, and unworthy and unbefitting of a legal practitioner,” the tribunal said. – ZimLive