Uganda | Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Property mogul Patrick Bitature has been given temporary reprieve by the Court of Appeal, who on Monday issued an injunction blocking South African moneylender Vantage Capital from selling Bitature’s multi-billion Kampala prime properties over a disputed USh177 billion debt.
Mr Bitature, Chairperson of Simba Group of Companies, through his lawyers of Muwema and Company Advocates, ran to the Court of Appeal after Justice Stephen Mubiru of the Commercial Division of the High Court controversially dismissed his application in which he had sought to stop the advertisement and auctioning of his properties.
Mr Bitature had sought a temporary injunction against lawyers for Vantage, Robert Kirunda, Noah Shamah Wasige and bailiff Festus Katerega from selling off the properties in a bid to recover the debt until the final disposal of cases pending before the courts.
Bitature’s Kampala real estate empire that is at stake includes the 30-unit Elizabeth Royal Apartments in Kololo, the Skyz Hotel in Naguru, and the Moyo Close Apartments in Kololo.
On Monday, June 27, 2022, Justice Christopher Gashirabake ruled that the businessman has proved that his properties are facing a threat of sale.
“There is all evidence that there is a real threat of sale/disposal of the property before determination of the main arguments of jurisdiction of this court can be determined. For this reason, I grant the protective order sought,” ruled Justice Gashirabake.
Vantage says in 2014 it lent Mr Bitature through his various companies US$10 million, of which he has “not paid back one cent” despite the loan term ending in 2019. The lenders say the loan to Mr Bitature’s companies has now ballooned to a whopping $32 million, after accrued interest and penalties kicked in.
Justice Musa Ssekaana had earlier deemed the contested loans unconstitutional. Ssekaana had nullified the loan transactions because the South African lenders had bypassed the legal requirement of registering their business in Uganda before carrying out the transactions with Bitature.
Following such a conclusion, Justice Ssekaana rejected any recovery action about the contested debts.
Despite that judgement, the lenders went ahead and listed Bitature’s properties for auction, yet the lenders themselves had filed an appeal at the same time.
As a result, Bitature’s lawyers, Muwema and Company Advocates, petitioned the Court of Appeal for a temporary restraining order against the lenders’ alleged misbehaviour.
Justice Mubiru, on the other hand, reviewed Justice Ssekaana’s judgement before dismissing it, as if he were now the court of appeal himself, rather than granting or dismissing the application sought by Muwema and Company counsel.
Despite being of the same rank as Ssekaana, who had previously invalidated the loans, and the fact that the lenders had appealed, Justice Mubiru held that he was not bound by Ssekaana’s judgement.
As a result, Mubiru overruled Ssekaana’s decision, effectively allowing the auction of Bitature’s properties that had been put up as security for the loan transaction.
Muwema filed an appeal after Mubiru’s decision, which overturned Ssekaana’s. To his and his client’s relief, Justice Gashibarake has delayed the sale of Bitature’s properties until the main application over Mubiru’s judgement is heard.
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