BY BRIAN CHITEMBA
INDUSTRY and Commerce deputy minister and Bulawayo South legislator Raj Modi has been caught in an equipment stripping scandal after he allegedly received materials looted by the judicial manager of a top retail outlet in the country’s second largest city, court documents show.
In an urgent High Court application this week, Bulawayo businessman Dharmesh Bhikha accused judicial manager Philip Ndlovu, who was appointed to head Bhikha Enterprises Private Limited in terms of High Court order HC 3343/17, of disposing of properties without the knowledge of shareholders and creditors.
Bhikha runs Tilus Supermarket which relies on the looted equipment for business.
“Respondent (Ndlovu) has in the process disposed of the property to Sai Mart, a close competitor to H Bhikha Enterprise Private Limited; which again cannot be calculated to mean the respondent is acting in good faith,” Bhikha’s legal representatives, Tanaka Law Chambers wrote on April 13, 2021.
Sai Mart is owned by Modi, who officially opened doors to Sai Mart Lobengula Street in October 2020, where he promised to create 120 jobs. The retail outlet is a sister company to Modi’s Wholesale Centre Liquor Hub — one of the biggest liquor shops in Bulawayo.
Modi yesterday denied that Sai Mart received equipment from Ndlovu.
“I am not aware of this court case. But it is not true that we got Bhikha’s equipment,” he said.
In his founding affidavit, Bhikha said he wanted urgent relief to force Ndlovu to return stripped assets.
Ndlovu was appointed judicial manager in 2017 after Bhikha Enterprises went under voluntary judicial management.
Bhikha accused Ndlovu of disposing of the property to Moji’s Sai Mart, a list of shop equipment such as eight industrial shelves, five till points, one bread rack, a Pepsi fridge, bakery equipment, 37 bread tins, 24 cake tins, 211 log domes. Others include a bun divider serial number s-11017, one digital scale serial number 13316346, a cake mixture machine serial number 182711131, a wooden sweets stand, three crystal sweets stands and 18 confectionery trays.
“It is submitted that the matter be dealt with on an urgent basis because the respondent has unilaterally disposed of the major assets and capital of H Bhikha Enterprise Private Limited in which applicant is a creditor and the shareholder. This act of disposing of the company assets which is ongoing has to be stopped and the property that has already been taken be returned,” Bhikha said in court documents.
“Harm is ongoing and further harm has happened in that some of the property has already been disposed of by the respondent (Ndlovu). Applicant (Bhikha) has acted promptly to protect his interest in the business. Applicant has equally treated this matter with urgency and consequently this honorable court must certify the matter to be urgent and protect company assets.
“I wish to emphasise that again it is not in the best interest of the business H Bhikha Enterprises limited to have its assets disposed of at this stage. I am making this assertion based on the fact that the judicial manager has made revelations that he has turned around the company and has made profit from it, which is over US$17 million (US$202 000).”
Ndlovu is yet to file his response in court.