IT was sweet justice for a Bulawayo woman who was accused of conniving with her three male relatives to misrepresent to the Assistant Master of the High Court that she was the only surviving spouse of her deceased a�?polygamousa�? husband in order to inherit his estate.
Sithembiso Phiri (43) who was jointly charged with Elias Mlotshwa (67), Mordecai Mlotshwa (71) and Gladmore Masuku (58) had every reason to smile when they were acquitted of fraud charges at the close of the State case by Bulawayo magistrate Evelyne Mashavakure last week.
In coming up with the ruling the magistrate noted that it was possible that the deceased Nkululeko Mlotshwa introduced Sithembiso to his relatives Elias, Mordecai and Masuku as his only wife after he had severed ties with Rhodah Hlongwane (58) whom she was legally married to.
Nkululeko reportedly separated with Hlongwane in 1998.
a�?It is clear from the evidence before this court that the deceased recognises Sithembiso Ncube as the only wife he had when he registered her as the only spouse on his pension for the ex-detainees.
a�?Moreso this marriage between deceased and the complainant (Rhodah Hlongwane) in my view it was not common knowledge among the other three accused as they only knew that deceased had separated with the complainant.
a�?However, since it has come out that the deceased was married legally with the complainant and that the marriage still exists, at law she is recognised as the surviving spouse of the deceased. Hence the parties should approach the respectable court to have that error rectified,a�? said the magistrate.
Allegations which were facing the quartet were that Elias, Mordecai and Masuku approached the Assistant Master of the High Court a Mr E Maphosa and testified that they were real brothers of Nkululeko who died on 17 July last year.
They were also accused of having given evidence to the effect that the deceased had only one surviving spouse, Sithembiso yet they knew that Hlongwane was also married to the deceased.
Acting on the misrepresentation the Assistant Master of the High Court granted authority to Phiri to have the power over the deceaseda��s estate.
The alleged fraud which led to the arrest of the quartet came to light when the complainant and the a�?reala�? brothers of the deceased went to the High Court to apply for the death certificate and register estate of the deceased.