FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has ordered the withdrawal of Police Protection Unit members from one of her Mazowe farms after four officers manning the property were caught and charged with possession of close to one hundred and eighty 50kg bags of gold ore, it has been learnt.
By Bernard Mpofu
Informed sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Grace was furious in September after four on-duty police officers were caught with large quantities of gold ore — whose value could not be immediately ascertained — by a private guard who was also keeping an eye on her Mondo Farm, located nearly two kilometres from her orphanage.
The First Lady, sources revealed, has of late been sensitive to security issues after previous reports of security breaches at the family’s dairy business. This, they said has also resulted in her personal closed security unit being beefed up in recent times, the sources said.
Mondo Farm, formerly Smithfield, is one of seven farms that were compulsorily acquired by government from delisted agro-industrial concern Interfresh Limited.
“A guard manning the property saw the officers with several bags of roughly 50kg each of ore that could have been seized from illegal miners, who had trespassed through the farm,” a source said.
“Before this development, 16 officers from the PPU and 20 from the Support Unit were manning the property daily. That has since changed. Only officers from the Support Unit are now at the property after the First Lady demanded that PPU officers should leave.”
Grace, the sources said, then ordered her aide-de-camp Olga Bungu, who is a senior officer and member of the PPU, to call the officer-in-charge of the Mazowe deployment to withdraw them.
The four officers, the sources said, were charged under the Police Act and detained for 12 days, the sources said.
Officer Commanding PPU Lee Muchemwa and police spokesperson Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment.
The PPU is a province within the Zimbabwe Republic Police tasked with VVIP and VIP protection. The unit has four districts namely Tomlinson, Escorts, Northern and Southern.
Early this year, two soldiers and a civilian were charged for an attempted bombing at President Robert Mugabe’s dairy farm in Mazowe.
Suspended Prosecutor-General (PG) Johannes Tomana has landed himself in trouble after he allegedly sanctioned the dropping of criminal charges against two soldiers linked to an attempted bombing.
Grace has in the past accused the security forces of planning to assassinate her youngest son Bellarmine Chatunga as factional fights to succeed her ageing husband reached fever pitch. She is reportedly behind a faction known as Generation 40, feuding Team Lacoste, which is understood to be fronted by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In 2013, government acquired several farms owned by Interfresh, which are located in one of the mineral rich and arable areas of the country.
The other farms are Bloomfield, Clifton, Laurencedale, Goldendale Estate, Remainder of Cornucopia and Yarrowdale.
In January this year, the Administrative Court ordered government to pay US$27 million to Interfresh as compensation for the company’s seven farms that were compulsorily acquired.