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Court grants investors right to sue ABWA

The court heard that ABWA received funds from more than 300 investors for the purpose of collective investment and to manage such investment for the account of investors.

A NUMBER of investors, who lost thousands of United States dollars after investing in the African Business Women Association (ABWA) have had their application granted at the Commercial Court for leave to sue the organisation and its director Shamiso Fred.

Blaman Sekete, Grace Pumhu,Vimbainashe Mahwiridi, Ayanda Chakawa and Felix Witness Mambondiani had cited ABWA and Fred as respondents in the application.

Fred had opposed the application to be sued personally, arguing that the investors should sue the organisation as she is also a victim after the organisation collapsed.

In their court application for leave to institute a class action suit before Justice Sylvia Chiwawu-Mugomba, the investors submitted that they held numerous joint venture agreements (JVA) concluded across the globe, with ABWA represented by Fred.

The court heard that ABWA received funds from more than 300 investors for the purpose of collective investment and to manage such investment for the account of investors.

The material terms were that the investors would pay a capital sum as initial contribution into ABWA’s various business projects, which were to run for a period of between 22-28 months.

The investors were entitled to an agreed monthly profit share and a dividend payment and none of them materialised.

As a result, the investors told the court that they lost not only their initial capital contributions, but were owed monthly profits and dividends.

The investors said the JVAs be found to be unenforceable, ABWA would have been unjustly enriched while the investors are impoverished.

The investors are seeking specific performance or alternatively unjust enrichment.

The investors also contended that they were well educated and had invested time and effort in pursuing the matter.

They filed the application seeking an order that the applicants be appointed representatives of all investors duped by ABWA and Fred.

They also sought that the costs of the application form part of the costs of the class action to be instituted by the applicants on behalf of the persons concerned, unless there is opposition by the respondents.

However, Justice Chirawu-Mugomba said she was convinced that the applicants met the requirements outlined in section 3 of the Act for the granting of leave to institute a class action suit.

“They all possess JVAs and questions of fact and law relating to partnerships comes into the fray. The level of education has been identified,” the judge ruled.

“I have also taken into account the seemingly huge sums of money that the investors identified so far have put in as per the first schedule.

“The nature of the relief sought that of specific performance or alternatively unjust enrichment is legally competent.”

Justice Chirawu-Mugomba said compiling a list of 307 investors so far was no small task, adding that  Sekete, who elected to represent the other investors, is able to raise the funds for the class action. The judge then granted the order.

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