The family of the late politician and businessperson Mohammed Sidik Mia is fighting over management and distribution of his estate, court documents show.
His second wife Fatra acting for herself and her two-year-old child—has gone to court to restrain Mia’s other wife, Abida, and her daughter Huraine from “dissipating” the deceased estate until the High Court grants letters of administration.
The 25-year-old, who is based in South Africa, further wants to be appointed either as a receiver or co-receiver of the unspecified estate, pending the grant of letters of administration, according to “an ex-parte application for an interlocutory injunction order and appointment of Fatra Mia as receiver of the estate of Mohammed Sidik Mia”.
The application was filed on March 9 2021 at the High Court’s Principal registry in Blantyre.
The former Lower Shire political heavyweight died on January 12 this year, aged 56, due to Covid-19 complications.
At the time of his death, Mia was serving as Minister of Transport and Public Works as well as Malawi Congress Party (MCP) vice-president.
Fatra is accusing Abida and her Australia-based daughter Huraine of intending to apply for letters of administration while excluding her and her daughter, despite being “legal and beneficial owners of the estate”.
She went to court to challenge Abida and Huraine following a public notice placed in the local press dated February 4 this year by their lawyers Sacranie, Gow and Company.
The lawyers also asked all persons who were indebted to the deceased or those with anything in their possession that forms part of the deceased’s estate to submit their particulars to them by March 3 2021.
Court documents in the Miscellaneous Application Number 26 of 2021, which we have seen, show that Abida and Huraine are first and second defendants in the matter—one of the country’s high-profile estate disputes.
In her sworn statement in support of her application for the injunction, Fatra—whose full names are Fatra Amira Jaafar—further says she and the late Mia were married in 2017 under Islamic law. She further says they have a child, born on January 8 2019.
“Upon the deceased’s demise, I got in touch with the defendants through two mediators—Khalid Mia and Esa Arab—on distribution of property forming part of the estate.
“In the beginning, the mediators offered me K40 million, being myself and my child’s share of the estate. I turned it down.
“Subsequently, on or around February 17 2021, they made a further offer of K150 million in total broken down as: Two town houses and K40 million in cash. I wrote back… communicating my rejection of the offer,” reads part of her sworn statement.
Fatra further claims in the statement to have informed the mediators that it would be difficult for her to settle for such an amount when she had no indication of the value of the property.
The document also shows she told the mediators that for her to make an informed decision, she needed to know and see the supposed late Mia’s will that the mediators claimed he left behind.
“Indeed, given the very tender age of my child and the fact that I have no source of income, I found the amount offered to be extremely low.
“We fear that lack of transparency and accountability will work against us and we will be coerced into accepting an offer which is far from reasonable and unwarranted,” further reads Fatra’s sworn statement.
But in their letter—which are part of the case file—addressed to Fatra, the two mediators said they had engaged a Mr Latif, senior counsel, partner at Sacranie, Gow and Company and trusted friend and family lawyer of the late Mia for over 20 years, to collect information from creditors.
They said this was to let the net estate of the late Mia be established so that it can be wound up in a transparent and accountable manner, after settling all creditors.
Reads the letter: “We understand that as a mother of a minor child of the late Honourable Sidik Mia, you would like the estate to be managed, accounted and distributed in a transparent and dignified manner that befits the deceased and his soul so that the minor child’s future is secured.
“We have no doubt that at an appropriate time all the information will be disclosed to all interested parties. We have no doubt that the late Honourable Sidik Mia’s estate will be wound up in a transparent and accountable manner as is required by law.”
The mediators said their interest was to settle for the sake of the child and their respect for their brother and friend [Sidik], who left behind a vast estate, including real estate, farming, and bank deposits.
“However, we have noted that our efforts to negotiate a settlement have so far failed as you have rejected the proposal. On our own initiative, we are willing to keep the proposal made to you open for the next 14 days, after which the proposal will be withdrawn,” reads the letter dated February 17 2021.
But in a March 2 2021 response to the mediators’ position, Fatra’s lawyer Madalo Banda of Ritz Attorneys-at-Law; said her client is ready and willing to have the matter settled amicably while insisting that an evaluation of the estate be done for the settlement to be meaningful.
Yesterday, she confirmed that the matter was indeed in court, but declined to comment further, saying: “I do not have instructions from my client to comment on anything in the media.”
The lawyers have also demanded a copy of the purported Mia’s will plus other relevant documentation.
Born in Chikwawa on March 4, 1965, the late Mia was a business tycoon, philanthropist and former Chikwawa Nkombezi legislator who held various ministerial positions in Cabinet since 2004.
In the May 2019 Tripartite Elections, he stood as running mate of President Lazarus Chakwera, but gave way to UTM Party leader Saulos Chilima during the June 2020 court-sanctioned fresh presidential election.
Before joining MCP, Mia served as minister in the administration of Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda.
However, Mia was mostly known as a cattle breeder from Chikwawa, who alongside his wife Abida, run S & A Cold Storage Limited after they bought it from the government in 2000.