Phiri v. Zulu

After fifty-four years of marriage, Mr. Phiri divorced Ms. Zulu in 2006. She was the mother of his nine children, and they shared a matrimonial home on a farm. Throughout the course of the marriage, Mr. Phiri and Ms. Zulu acquired real property, comprising the farm, other residential houses, and a bar, as well as several vehicles. However, during the divorce proceedings Mr. Phiri sold many of the houses and gave two of the properties to his children as gifts. He kept the proceeds of the sales for himself. The local court of first instance ordered Mr. Phiri to surrender one of the houses, a shop, a tavern and a sewing machine to Ms. Zulu. Unhappy with the outcome, Mr. Phiri appealed to the Subordinate Court, which heard the matter de novo. The Subordinate Court came to the same conclusions as the local court, although it ordered Mr. Phiri to surrender an additional sewing machine and K 6,000,000, as compensation for the property sold during the divorce proceedings, although no valuation of the latter had taken place. Ms. Zulu appealed to the High Court, among other grounds, on the basis that Subordinate Court should have also taken into account her contribution to the marital home (the farm) and that an assessment of the sold properties (or monies from the sale thereof) should have occurred. The High Court held that because the farm was acquired and maintained through the joint efforts of the husband and wife, Ms. Zulu had acquired a beneficial interest in the farm. Accordingly, the High Court ordered a valuation of the farm and directed Mr. Phiri to pay with one-third of the value to Ms. Zulu as a lump sum. Moreover, reasoning that the K 6,000,000 payment, related to the marital property sold during the divorce proceedings, was awarded without any basis whatsoever, the High Court further ordered a valuation of such property, with Ms. Zulu to receive one half of the assessed value.




High Court

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