NatPharm wins vehicle case Nyabadza’s contract with the pharmaceutical company ended in August 2020 and in terms of NatPharm policy, he was supposed to surrender the vehicle following the termination of his employment, but he kept it.

Chief Court Reporter

Former National Pharmaceutical Company operations manager, Mr Zealous Nyabadza, will now have to surrender the Toyota Hilux allocated to him for official use during his tenure of office after the High Court ruled in favour of the company.

Nyabadza’s contract with the pharmaceutical company ended in August 2020 and in terms of NatPharm policy, he was supposed to surrender the vehicle following the termination of his employment, but he kept it.

After a dispute arose, NatPharm went to the High Court and sued the former employee to recover its vehicle.

In its action brought before Justice Paul Musithu, NatPharm stated that it entered into a three-year fixed-term contract of employment with Nyabadza on September 1 2017. Among the conditions of the contract was that the company would provide Nyabadza with a vehicle that would be surrendered at the termination of the contract.

The company argued that after the expiry of his contract, Nyabadza had no right to continue to keep the vehicle and wanted a court order that he had to surrender it.

But Nyabadza opposed the order sought against him arguing that NatPharm had no right to bring an action against him because he had sued the company for alleged unlawful termination of his contract and payment of terminal benefits, and that suit was still pending before the same court.

Nyabadza denied that the contract required him to surrender the vehicle upon its termination, arguing the company policy stated that a manager who had been allocated a vehicle was entitled to purchase the vehicle provided he had served for five years.

After considering submissions from both parties’ legal counsel, Justice Musithu granted the application by NatPharm and ordered Nyabadza to surrender the vehicle.

In his ruling, the judge made a finding that company transport policy was clear that a manager was entitled to purchase the company-issued vehicle upon satisfying certain conditions, but he would not interpret that entitlement to mean that the manager concerned had a right to keep the car before formally purchasing that vehicle.

“Ownership rights are still vested in the applicant as the ex-employer,” said Justice Musithu. NatPharm had to initiate a sale process by making an offer to the ex-manager, but the ex-manager could not legally claim a right to keep a vehicle that did not belong to him.

In addition, the judge said, even if Nyabadza’s claim was founded on the provisions of his former contract of employment, and NatPharm transport policy, the parties still must formalise the sale of the vehicle to the ex-employee through an offer and acceptance culminating into an agreement of sale.

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