Batatawala and son-in-law face off over vehicle ownership

Aslam Abdul Karim Batatawala Appears in Court on Corruption Charges

Prominent Blantyre business magnate, Abdul Karim Batatawala, and his son-in-law, Shabir Jussab, are currently entangled in a heated legal dispute that has reached the Midima Magistrates Court in Blantyre.

Karim Batatawala claim in vehicle case
Part of Batatawala company’s claim filed at the Midima court

The focal point of their feud revolves around a 2019 Toyota Fortuner with the registration number BX4246. Batatawala, through his company, Lido Electrical, claims that he lent the car to his daughter, Alisha, for her use while she was married to Shabir.

However, recent court documents reveal that Jussab, through his company RR Trading, has already made full payments for the vehicle. This is evidenced by a change of ownership letter submitted to the road traffic directorate, where Batatawala indicated that he sold the car to Jussab.

In his summons, filed through his legal representatives at Mbeta & Company on October 26, Batatawala claims that he allowed Jussab to transfer ownership of the vehicle to his name in August 2020. He cited difficulties in obtaining a Certificate of Fitness and Insurance for the vehicle while it was still registered in his name. Batatawala argues that since the divorce between Jussab and Alisha, the vehicle should not remain in Jussab’s name.

Summons for Shabir Jussab
Court summons Shabir Jussab

Jussab, represented by Clarkes Attorneys, counters this claim by asserting that he purchased the vehicle from Batatawala and subsequently registered it in his business’s name after all payments were completed. According to his defense, the change of ownership was solely intended to reflect the legal status of the vehicle following the purchase.

Additionally, Jussab alleges that Batatawala unlawfully took possession of the vehicle while he was out of the country and has refused to return it despite his efforts. He supports this claim with six payment vouchers totaling K60 million, demonstrating payments made for the vehicle from August 2020 to January 2021.

Notably, this legal dispute is not the only conflict between the two. They are also embroiled in a separate legal battle where Batatawala is seeking Jussab’s arrest for alleged insults via Facebook and WhatsApp.

Jussab, who is currently conducting personal business in Saudi Arabia, faces accusations of cyber harassment against Batatawala. According to police reports, the Malawi Police have initiated an Interpol alert to apprehend Jussab and bring him back to Malawi. The allegations against Jussab involve violations of the Electronic Transaction and Cyber Security Act, specifically Section 86(b. It is alleged that Jussab used his computer system to disseminate threatening messages aimed at causing harm to Batatawala and his family.

Shabir Jussab counter claim filed Midima Magistrate
Shabir Jussab counter claim

The warrant for Jussab’s arrest states, “You are hereby directed to arrest the said Shabir Jussab and to produce him before this court in execution of this your warrant and herein fail not.”

Jussab, who is estranged from Batatawala’s daughter, maintains that his reluctance to involve his business in government supply contracts has fueled Batatawala’s animosity. He asserts that despite being a British citizen, he declined Batatawala’s repeated requests to use his business for government dealings, citing ethical concerns.

Regarding the alleged threatening messages, Jussab claims that he merely forwarded messages circulating against Batatawala and denies any active involvement in sending threats. He also disavows having the resources to challenge Batatawala’s wealth-driven legal pursuits.

This legal saga between Batatawala and Jussab underscores deeper family issues, international dimensions, legal complexities, and business practices. It unfolds amidst a backdrop of previous legal challenges faced by Batatawala, including allegations of corruption and money laundering detailed in an investigative report by the Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ). The report outlined questionable practices involving Malawi’s Defense Force, Police, and Immigration Department in relation to Batatawala’s companies.


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