Scramble for Nkomo’s pension

by Shingirai Huni | Sunday, Apr 5, 2015 | 3407 views

MORE than 10 years after the death of national hero and former Matabeleland South Governor Stephen Jeqe Nyongolo Nkomo, his children and three women who are alleging to be customary wives to the late hero are involved in a dispute over his Government pension.
The children and women, who are accused of “reaping where they did not sow”, allegedly submitted competing pension claim forms last week at Gwanda Government Complex to access the late Governor’s pension.

However, according to the death certificate of Nkomo, a copy of which is in Sunday News’ possession, he was a widower. A close family source told Sunday News that only one woman, Eula Mhlanga, had managed to register her customary marriage at the Tredgold Magistrates’ Court with the assistance of Stephen’s younger brother Edward and his two sons.

The source, who alleged that he was close to Nkomo during his life time, insisted that the struggle stalwart died a widower as recorded in his death certificate. He further questioned why Mhlanga would register her union 11 years after the death of Nkomo.

“Edward as the family head is the one who obtained Stephen’s death certificate. However, it boggles the mind as to why he would turn around after 11 years and assist MaMhlanga register a customary marriage,” said the family source.

Nkomo’s son born out of wedlock, Shakana, said when his father died he was still at school but he knew him as a widower after his civil wedded wife Eunice, had pre-deceased him. “I only discovered last week on Wednesday when I went to Gwanda Government complex that a woman by the name Eula Mhlanga had submitted pension claims as the surviving spouse to obtain monies that belong to my father,” said Shakana.

He added that he also submitted his affidavits and birth certificate as proof that he was the son of Nkomo but his legal practitioners advised him that the law would favour Mhlanga as she is a surviving spouse.

“Some time last week again in the company of my legal practitioner I went to Tredgold to inquire about how MaMhlanga managed to be declared a customary wife after about more 11 years after the death of my father and a clerk at Tredgold advised us that she came in the company of Edward and his two sons who in confirmatory affidavits swore that she had a customary union with Stephen.

“The clerk further added that more than three women had visited Tredgold offices seeking to register their customary marriages and thus declared as surviving spouses.We requested to see the file under which MaMhlanga registered her customary union but the clerk said the file had unfortunately been misplaced. Gut feeling tells me that someone is hiding something because how can that particular file be lost among thousands of files in court,” added Shakana.

Contacted for comment Ms Mhlanga said she was the surviving spouse of Nkomo but refused to answer questions as to why she was only registering her customary union now referring all questions to Edward before hanging up her phone.

However, Edward declined comment on the issue saying he did not speak to the Press. Sunday News failed to get a comment from the daughter of Eunice, Khanyisile, who is now resident in England. According to the final liquidation and distribution account document in the testate estate of Stephen, leaked to Sunday News no one is mentioned as a surviving spouse. Testate means Stephen left behind a valid will.

According to the same document, which was finalised before the Zimbabwe dollar was demonetised, Nkomo had two immovable properties, one house in Pelandaba Township and another in the leafy suburb of Woodlands.

He had some of the following movable property — three cars, 43 head of cattle, 500 Falcon Gold shares, 5 638 Barclays Bank shares, Barclay’s cheque dividends including substantial amounts of monies. Distribution of Nkomo’s assets to his family was done in terms of the Deceased Estate Succession Act and his will dated 3 September 2001 and accepted as valid by the Deputy Master on 12 July 2003.

Nkomo’s daughter from his civil marriage with Eunice, Khanyisile received houses, all movable property in houses, Mercedes Benz and six head of cattle.

Khanyisile also received five head of cattle which were due to her deceased sister, Duduzile. Mhlanga’s son, Veleyinkosi received nine head of cattle and a Ford vehicle. Shakana received a quarter share of the cash.

Khanyisile’s two sons and grandson each received five head of cattle. Lastly, Edward received eight head of cattle. The execution and distribution of Nkomo’s estate was done by Bongani Ndlovu of Chelmsford Executors & Trust (Pvt) Ltd.

Nkomo died on 20 April 2003 at Mater Dei Hospital. The late Governor was the younger brother to the late Vice-President, Dr Joshua Nkomo. During his funeral at the National Heroes Acre President Mugabe chronicled Cde Nkomo’s history and his contribution to the liberation struggle and after, to the development of the country after independence.

Cde Mugabe further recognised Cde Nkomo as a widower saying even after the death of his wife, who used to help him, the Governor remained committed to the national cause.

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