The wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who forcibly occupied three mansions belonging to a Lebanese businessman in Harare over a botched $1.3 million diamond ring deal last month, has defied a court order to vacate and proceeded to invade two more houses.
Grace Mugabe’s security personnel threatened to shoot the Sheriff of the High Court, Macauff Madega, when he delivered an eviction order to the First Family’s Blue Roof palace in the Helensvale area of Borrowdale suburb.
High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri on December 21 issued a provisional eviction order directing Grace (second respondent) and her accomplices – her son from a previous marriage Russell Goreraza (first respondent) and her security aide Kennedy Fero (third respondent) – to vacate, within 24 hours, three upmarket properties belonging to Jamal Ahmed.
On December 22 Madega delivered the High Court order to the three premises as well as to Mugabe’s residence in Borrowdale.
“Upon his arrival at the gate, armed soldiers stopped him as he tried to gain access into the premises to serve the notice,” a source revealed. “The armed soldiers said the premises were a security area and the sheriff was not allowed to be anywhere near. The soldiers refused to identify themselves and even refused to take the High Court order.
“When the sheriff tried to affix the High Court order on the wall so that [Grace] could have access to it upon her arrival, the soldiers dragged him away from the gate to the tarred road with another soldier threatening that he was going to shoot the sheriff if he persisted.”
In a shocking disregard for the rule of law and despite having been ordered to vacate the premises within 24 hours, Grace has invaded two more houses belonging to Ahmed.
In an affidavit presented to the High Court on January 3, Talent Kasiya, a gardener employed by Ahmed, said: “On Sunday December 18 I attended at Dungarvan House, Wilson Avenue in Borrowdale, where I saw two men whom I recognised as having been part of the group that had initially come to the Cambridge Road premises.”
“I noticed that the lock at the back entrance of Dungarvan House had in fact been broken and, as there was no one manning the gate, I was able to enter.”
“From Dungarvan I proceeded to No. 11 Borrowdale Lane where I saw two persons at those premises, but I could not enter as I did not know the persons and did not know what authority they have to be on the premises,” reads the affidavit.
Grace’s lawyers, Manase and Manase legal practitioners, claim their client had not been served with any eviction notices. Lawyer Wellington Pasipanodya, who is handling the case, said no papers have been served on Grace.
“My client has not seen anything. She is in Singapore and she was away at the time you are saying properties were invaded,” Pasipanodya said. He said the law firm representing Ahmed should serve the papers on Grace’s law firm.
Ahmed’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said a second eviction notice was issued last week for Grace and her accomplices to vacate the properties. “When we opened on Tuesday (last week), another eviction order was issued and the sheriff is expected to deliver it anytime from now. If they refuse to vacate the five premises, then it will be contempt of court, meaning the respondents have to be arrested and kept in custody,” Mtetwa said. “It will be up to the courts because we have exhausted all other possible avenues to engage them.”
Grace was dragged to court last month after invading three upmarket houses in Harare belonging to Ahmed, a diamond dealer and business tycoon.
In his provisional order, Justice Phiri directed that the three respondents “forthwith” vacate Ahmed’s premises.
“Take note that on 21 December 2016 the High Court, sitting at Harare before the honourable Justice Phiri, issued a provisional order,” reads the order, “the respondents and all those claiming through them forthwith vacate the premises known as No. 409 Harare Drive, Pomona, Harare; No. 18 Cambridge Road, Avondale; and No. 75 King George Road, Avondale, Harare.
“In the event that the respondents and their agents do not vacate the said premises within 24 hours of the service of this order at each one of the premises, that the sheriff be and is hereby authorised to evict the respondents, their agents at each one of the premises and all those claiming title through the respondents and to restore and handover the properties and their keys to the applicant’s agents and nominees.
“The respondents restore onto the premises all property removed and taken to the workers’ alternative homes.”
Documents seen by African Independent show that Grace placed an order for a $1.3 million diamond ring in Dubai through Thatchfree Investments (Pvt) Ltd, a company owned by Ahmed. The expensive ring was meant to be President Robert Mugabe’s 20th wedding anniversary gift to his wife. They wed in August 1996.
“Sometime in April 2015, [Grace Mugabe] placed an order for a diamond with my daughter in Dubai which she indicated her husband wanted to buy her for their anniversary,” reads one of the affidavits lodged before the courts.
“As the diamond was not readily available, it had to be sourced from a third party who wanted to be paid upfront and when this was advised to [Grace], she indicated that she was in Singapore and could not immediately pay and that we could pay on her behalf in Harare and she would refund the amount. That was done.”
The documents also state that Grace gave “approval” for the diamond to be polished by a third party who also needed to be paid and again we made this payment on the basis that she would refund these payments as she authorised the polishing by a third party.
“Upon her return to Harare, the second respondent instructed CBZ Bank to attend to the transfer of the $1.350 million, being the purchase price for the finished diamond, which amount took time to transfer as it had become difficult to transfer the money out of Zimbabwe. The transfer was ultimately done in May 2016 and the diamond was tendered to [Grace] in Dubai.
“Surprisingly, [Grace] then refused to take delivery of the diamond and instead demanded a full refund in Dubai.”
After Ahmed refused to give Grace the refund in hard cash in Dubai, citing forex externalisation laws, she instructed her son to invade the properties. Ahmed was prepared to pay Grace in instalments through the banking system but she refused and proceeded to invade the mansions.