THE High Court has ordered First Lady Grace Mugabe to remove her proxies from three houses she confiscated from a Lebanese diamond dealer, Jamal Ahmed whom she demands to refund her a whopping $1,35 million she paid for a 10, 07 carat diamond ring.
In a ruling delivered on Wednesday by High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri, Grace’s proxies were ordered off the three properties in 24 hours of being served with the order. Justice Phiri said failure to vacate the premises, the Sheriff would be authorised to evict them and restore the properties to Ahmed.
The First Lady, who travelled to the Far East on Tuesday for holidaying with her husband President Robert Mugabe, was also ordered to restore property removed from one of the workers’ houses.
Grace had allegedly taken over three properties belonging to Ahmed demanding a full refund for a ring she bought from Dubai. She made the payment through a local commercial bank, but declined the ring on delivery before demanding that the refund be deposited in her private Dubai bank account.
But Ahmed, who claimed he was in Belgium at the time, allegedly told her he had used a third party and the refund, would take long, which Grace rejected and proceeded to confiscate the three properties owned by the diamond dealer.
This prompted Ahmed to approach the courts to recover his properties and seek protection from the threats he was continuously receiving from Grace’s first son Russell Goreraza.
The story which was first broken by our sister paper, The Zimbabwe Independent shows that Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore and Kennedy Fero who, according to court papers, is part of Grace’s security personnel, were also allegedly involved in verbally abusing and threatening Ahmed over the ring.
The seized properties include number 409 Harare Drive and 18 Cambridge Road in Avondale.
Ahmed’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa yesterday confirmed the latest development, and Grace’s lawyer Wilson Manase also confirmed the order, but said he would challenge it.
“It is not correct. It is not how the deal went. The truth is she [Grace] is a victim in the matter. She bought the ring and never got it. The product was never shown to her. This is crooked. We will file our papers to oppose the order. It was more than a default judgment. We did not appear to oppose it,” Manase said.
“It’s a malicious campaign against the First Lady. She is out of the country and was not even served with the papers. No papers were filed at State House. She also has no account outside Zimbabwe as Ahmed claimed. If she had, let him produce it in court. We now have full information about what happened. Ahmed is being dishonest.”
Mtetwa, however, said: “The matter proceeded as scheduled before Justice Phiri who had, on the 14th made an order directing the Sheriff to do affidavits on what had happened when his office sought to serve papers at the various addresses, including at Blue Roof [Mugabe’s private residence]. The Sheriff made the two affidavits with his remarks,” Mtetwa said.
The judge had, thereafter, directed the Sheriff to reserve the notice of set down for the 21st at 10am, which he attempted to do on the 19th. His return of service states that he could not serve at Blue Roof because no one at the premises was willing to accept service of the process.
“When he sought to affix the process at the gate in terms of the rules, he was threatened by an armed soldier who barred him from conducting any further action.”
Mtetwa said the matter then proceeded to submissions and in the middle of this, the judge was called to the Judge President George Chiweshe’s Office and on his return directed that the matter be resumed at 2:30pm.
At the appointed time, Mtetwa said Messrs Wilson Manase and Wellington Pasipanodya, who appeared for the First Lady and her underlings applied for a 10-day postponement to enable them to get full instructions from their client, who is holidaying in Singapore.
“They argued that they had only been engaged that morning and had not been able to take full instructions and that they might have to travel to Singapore to do this and, therefore, needed at least 10 days,” Mtetwa said.
“The application was opposed on the basis that the respondents had known about the matter heading for court since November 23 when they were first addressed and put on terms to vacate the premises and that instead of engaging lawyers they embarked on further threatening the applicant.
“When served with court papers on December 9, after failed attempts to have the matter resolved in terms of an agreement they had requested be drafted, which they subsequently did not sign, and they did not come to court on the set down date of December 14.
“Instead, they had consolidated their illegal actions by removing the workers’ remaining assets from one of the houses and transported them to Bulawayo.”
Although the judge had given them a second chance to be served for the hearing of the 21st, Mtetwa said Grace’s lawyers did not appear at the appointed time of 10am.
“Having commenced the hearing at 10am, it was stopped and it was only resumed at 2:30pm when the lawyers came to apply for a postponement,” Mtetwa said.
“The presiding judge asked what would happen during the 10-day period, whether the unlawful occupation would cease, and why a court would allow the continuation of an illegality for another 10-days when the relief sought was interim in nature and respondents could present their argument on the return day.
“It was also argued on behalf of the applicants that spoliation is by its very nature urgent and that the courts should not encourage self-help and anarchy,” she said.
“That the equality before the law provision should be seen to apply in practical terms by assuring the public that the mighty and powerful are subject to the same laws as the weak and ordinary.”