LAWYERS representing Lebanese businessman Jamal Ahmed in a US$1,35 million diamond ring dispute with Grace Mugabe have accused the Sheriff’s Office of breaching the constitution by dragging its feet in evicting the First Lady’s agents who invaded the businessman’s houses.
By Elias Mambo
Ahmed’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa wrote to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) complaining of the failure by the Sheriff of the High Court Macauff Madega to effect evictions despite being armed with a High Court provisional order.
In a letter dated February 2 and addressed to the deputy JSC secretary Walter Chikwanha, Mtetwa wrote: “A writ of execution was forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office on the 3rd January 2017, for the execution of a provisional order of the High Court.
“All necessary charges were paid to the sheriff as advised by his office. Undertakings were made that the execution would take place on Saturday, 7th January 2017 either by Mr Macauff Madega himself or by his senior assistant Mr Makunde.
“Makunde even gave his phone number to the writer for ease of communication as we required a presence of either from our office or from our client’s office. Regrettably, no such execution took place and both Madega and Makunde’s phones were unanswered when the writer called,” Mtetwa said.
She also said: “From the week beginning 9th January, the writer has literally ‘lived’ at the Sheriff’s Office in addition to telephoning and writing to the office.”
The letter also states that the lawyers were told that the sheriff required police escort to execute the order.
“We are concerned at this feet dragging which is clearly influenced by the fact that the respondents include an influential individual,” the letter further reads.
“The sheriff is known for being ruthless when it comes to discharging his duties and it is difficult to understand the failure to undertake even the most basic of actions of this matter and in our view it does not augur well for our justice delivery system, particularly your motto that you strive to deliver world-class justice.
“We would therefore be grateful if your office can direct the sheriff to forthwith execute his mandate as we now have instructions to compel him to do so.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Mtetwa said the sheriff’s failure to carry out a simple instruction deals a blow to the justice delivery system.
“The provision under Section 56 of the constitution that all persons are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection and benefit of the law are meant for lesser souls like you and me,” she said.
“Equally, the constitutional provision that every person has a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient and impartial gets ignored when the powerful are involved. The saddest part is that the constitution is being breached by an arm of the JSC, a body required to promote and facilitate the independence and accountability of the judiciary and the efficient, effective and transparent administration of justice.”
High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri, who heard the matter, granted a spoliation order in favour of the businessman on December 21 2016, ordering Grace and her agents to vacate Ahmed’s properties within 24 hours.
Police escort was sought after Grace’s security personnel allegedly threatened to shoot the sheriff of the High Court, Madega, when he delivered an eviction order to the First Family’s Blue Roof palace in the Helensvale area of Borrowdale on December 22 last year.
Madega wrote a letter to the Officer Commanding Harare requesting police escort in his bid to evict the illegal occupants off Ahmed’s premises.
“We hereby seek police assistance to enforce the attached writ and order. We want to carry out the ejectment of the occupants of 409 Harare Drive Pomona, 18 Cambridge Road Avondale and 75 King George Road Avondale,” wrote Madega.
In an interview on Wednesday, Madega referred all questions to Chikwanha.
“I am the sheriff, but I am not allowed to talk to the press. You can ask Chikwanha,” he said.
Grace was dragged to court after allegedly invading three upmarket houses in Harare belonging to Ahmed in a dispute over the purchase of a US$1,4 million diamond ring.
She was 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.
The expensive ring was meant to be President Robert Mugabe’s 20th wedding anniversary gift to his wife. The two wed in August 1996.