FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has been dragged to court after allegedly invading three upmarket houses in Harare belonging to a businessman in a dispute over the purchase of a US$1,4 million diamond ring, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
By Elias Mambo
Grace has been sued together with her son Russell Goreraza (1st respondent) and Kennedy Fero (3rd respondent) who, according to court papers, is part of Grace’s security personnel.
Documents seen by this paper say that Grace placed an order for a US$1,4 million diamond ring in Dubai through Thatchfree Investments (Pvt) Ltd, a company owned by Jamal Ahmed. The expensive ring was meant to be President Robert Mugabe’s wedding anniversary gift to his wife. This year is their 20th anniversary. The two wed in August 1996.
“Sometime in April 2015, the 2nd respondent (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 the document.
“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 the 2nd respondent, 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 2nd respondent instructed CBZ Bank to attend to the transfer of the US$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 the 2nd respondent in Dubai.
“Surprisingly, the 2nd respondent then refused to take delivery of the diamond and instead demanded a full refund in Dubai.”
“She was advised that this was not possible for a number of reasons, which include that costs had been incurred during polishing and that there was no legal basis for her resiling from the agreement and that she could herself sell the diamond and recoup what she could.”
The court papers also state that Grace was told that the seller could only refund her US$1,3 million through instalments.
Grace was also told that: “Any refund would have to be done in Harare through the account from which the original funds had come from as a refund in Dubai could easily be seen as an externalisation of funds and I did not want to be party to anything that would appear illegal”.
The court documents also say that Grace commenced a “reign of terror and harassment where I was verbally threatened, harassed, insulted and told that I could not do anything to them as they are in fact ‘Zimbabwe’”.
“Threats of taking over my properties in Zimbabwe were also made and the respondents were joined in these abuses by the 2nd respondent’s son-in-law (Simba Chikore),” Ahmed averred.
Court documents also reveal that on October 14 2016 “the respondents forcibly took control of the three immovable properties belonging to Ahmed where all the occupants were either evicted or put under house arrest with Grace’s armed guards who claim to be from the President’s Office were left on 409 Harare Drive and 18 Cambridge Road”.
Ahmed also stated in his affidavit that he tried to engage his lawyers who then wrote a letter to Grace so that she could evict her security details from the properties, for which he is a co-owner. The other owner was not mentioned in the court papers.
“The respondents became aware of the letter,” Ahmed said. Grace began to call Ahmed who had decided not to answer her calls. “When I did not answer her calls, she sent a message as follows: ‘Please serve those papers in my name. Don’t involve my son, it won’t help’.”
Attached to the court papers was a letter Ahmed’s lawyers, Beatrice Mtetwa and Tawanda Nyambirai Legal Practioners, wrote to Goreraza, who had occupied a property on Harare Drive.
“We are instructed that your mother, the First Lady of Zimbabwe, placed an order of a 10,07 carat diamond which, upon sourcing and mounting ultimately cost US$1,350 million,” reads a letter dated November 23.
“We are instructed that our client was thereafter subjected to verbal abuse and threats of violence against his person and that his properties would be taken without any form of due process. These threats were from yourself, your mother and your brother-in-law.
“We have therefore been instructed to demand, which we hereby do, that you forthwith vacate our client’s premises which should be accessible to him and his agents not later than 1600hrs on 24 November 2016.
“If you do not so vacate same, we have instructions to approach the High Court for appropriate urgent relief.”
Mtetwa also stated that “in the interim, and with regards the original agreement of sale, our client hereby tenders to your mother the diamond ring which she can collect at our client’s office in Dubai”.
Before approaching the High Court, Ahmed, according to court documents, wanted the matter to be resolved amicably.
“The letter (by Mtetwa and Nyambirai) did not motivate the respondents to consider returning possession of the properties to their lawful owner,” the papers read.
“An act of spoliation has been committed and it requires urgent redress. This court ought to intervene to correct this illegality. I therefore aver that any delay has been reasonably explained and that the matter cannot wait for the reasons that are stated in the founding affidavit.”