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Man demands lobola refund: The reason will surprise you

In an unexpected turn of affairs in Harare, Maxmillan Tapiwa Kondowe has filed a lawsuit against Charles Bandera, his father-in-law, seeking a lobola refund for the substantial amount of US$2,700 that he spent for his new bride. The upsetting discovery that his future wife was having an affair and had cheated on him before their wedding caused the conflict to arise.

Kondowe obtained a default judgment against Charles Bandera in Harare Civil Court. However, High Court Justices Benjamin Chikowero and Samuel Deme intervened, temporarily stopping the execution of the default judgment pending an appeal, drastically changing the course of the matter at hand.

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Detailing the sequence of events to the civil court, Kondowe explained that he fulfilled the lobola payment for Shumirai Bandera in March 2021. However, he faced a stipulation from the bride’s father, requiring him not to live with his wife-to-be until after their formal wedding ceremony.

Zimlive reports that merely two months later, Kondowe stumbled upon compelling evidence – WhatsApp messages on his wife’s phone – indicating her involvement with another man.

A confrontation ensued, wherein she allegedly confessed to the infidelity, prompting Kondowe to terminate the marriage and seek a full lobola refund.

Bandera, upon being served the summons, failed to present a defence, resulting in a default judgment against him.

Subsequently, he sought to rescind the judgement, citing the magistrate’s purported lack of jurisdiction and the reasonableness of his defence.

Legal Standoff and Court Intervention
The legal complexities deepened as Bandera sought an interim order to halt the execution of the default judgment, which was dismissed by the civil court. This spurred Bandera’s appeal to the High Court, successfully obtaining a temporary suspension of the judgement’s execution until a formal hearing is convened.

“The appellant’s explanation for the default… would tilt in favour of the granting of the rescission of the judgment.”

As this intricate legal saga unfolds, both parties await a decisive ruling, navigating the intricacies of lobola customs and the legal implications entangled in marital disputes. The case stands as a poignant example, shedding light on the intricate intersection between tradition, law, and personal relationships.

Please note that, according to rulings made by the Magistrate’s Court and the High Court of Zimbabwe, a husband is entitled to a full refund of his lobola if his wife cheats on him.

This ruling was confirmed in a 2015 decision by High Court judges Justice Hlekani Mwayera and Justice Tendai Uchena.

In the case, Liberty Machodo discovered that his wife had cheated on him on multiple occasions with various individuals, including his elder and younger brothers, a nephew, and a herd boy. Upon learning of this betrayal and breach of the marriage contract, Machodo sent his wife packing and divorced her.

This action didn’t sit well with the cheating wife’s father, Chikudza Fanuel Mangwende, who sued his former son-in-law in the Magistrate’s Court, demanding the outstanding balance for the lobola.

During the trial at the Magistrate’s Court, it came to light that the adulterous affairs were revealed when the couple’s newborn baby refused to breastfeed. Both Machodo and his ex-wife testified that the baby only started breastfeeding after the mother confessed fully to her adulterous behaviour. She admitted to having multiple adulterous affairs with Machodo’s brothers, nephew, and the herd boy.

After considering all the evidence, the magistrate ruled that Machodo’s wife had broken the marriage relationship by cheating on her husband. Due to this breach, the father was not entitled to any outstanding balance of the lobola payment.

The magistrate further ruled that, according to customary law, a man who has paid lobola is entitled to a full refund if his wife engages in adultery.

The court also found that customarily a husband is allowed to divorce an adulterous wife and then if he has paid lobola in full he is entitled to a refund of the lobola from the in laws.

Displeased with this ruling, the father-in-law filed an appeal at the High Court, where the matter was heard by Justices Mwayera and Uchena. The two judges dismissed Mangwende’s appeal, stating that they found no fault in the magistrate’s ruling. He was also ordered to pay the costs of the litigation.

In their decision, the judges stated: “In coming up with the disposition of the matter whereby the court a quo dismissed the claim for the balance of lobola, the trial magistrate properly exercised his discretion and we find no fault in his findings.”


For Full Legal Reference
For the full High Court judgment, please click on the link below:

Mangwende v Machodo (CIV ‘A’ 386/14) [2015] ZWHHC 755

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