By Elias Mambo
Lawyers representing Lebanese businessman Jamal Ahmed insist that First Lady Grace Mugabe invaded their client’s private property and is now using “rogue elements in the Zimbabwe Republic Police” to shield herself over a US$1,35 million diamond ring scandal.
In a letter dated January 11 2017 and addressed to the Police Headquarters legal department, Beatrice Mtetwa poked holes in the court submissions by President Robert Mugabe’s wife and the police. Mtetwa argued that the illegal occupants at Ahmed’s houses are acting on behalf of Grace, and querying why the police had not divulged that they had occupied the houses when the Sheriff of the High Court requested a police escort in his bid to evict the occupiers.
She also questioned why the occupants of the houses had referred them to the First Lady and her son Russell Goreraza.
“A provisional order per the attached copy was granted by the High Court on the 21st (of) December 2016 for the forthwith eviction of all those who occupy our clients’ premises,” wrote Mtetwa.
“Although the Sheriff was requested to effect the eviction as at 4th (of) January 2017, he has regrettably not done so under the subterfuge that he awaited the provision of escorts from the Officer Commanding District Harare (Dispol Harare).”
Police escort was sought after Grace’s security personnel allegedly 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 on December 22 last year.
Madega last week wrote a letter to the Officer Commanding Harare requesting police escort in his bid to evict the illegal occupants of 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.
Mtetwa said “whilst awaiting the eviction, we received, on the 10th (of) January opposing papers meant for the return.”
“These opposing papers include affidavits from Superintendent Kennedy Fero, the 3rd respondent in the High Court application and one from Superintendent Nyambo Viera of the Criminal Investigation Law and Order,” she wrote.
“As gleaned from these affidavits, Fero claims that our clients’ properties were occupied in terms of directives he received from his superiors within the police force and that our clients’ staff and other occupants of the said premises were removed from the premises for their own security and safety.
“Regrettably, his affidavit does not state the law under which he acted which allows the police to literally take over private property without any form of due process and to evict occupants without any form of due process and without explaining the reasons for this.”
Mtetwa also stated that following the receipt of instructions from their clients, she addressed letters to respondents and the occupants of various properties on November 23 2016.
“Those occupying No. 409 Harare Drive refused to open the gate to the premises other than to refer us to Russell Goreraza and the First Lady. None of these people identified themselves as members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” Mtetwa wrote.
“From 409 Harare Drive we proceeded to 18 Cambridge Road and we were attended to by Obed William whose immediate superior was Kennedy Fero, one of the First Lady’s bodyguards.”
Mtetwa also said when she requested Fero’s phone number, she was furnished with it and immediately called him.
“We called Fero advising that our client had been left with no choice but to litigate and whether he and his principal, the First Lady, appreciated the bad publicity which would follow such unnecessary litigation. During this conversation Fero did not at any stage advise that the First Lady had nothing to do with the occupations. Neither did he advise that the premises had been occupied as a result of police action,” the letter reads.
“Instead he pleaded with us to convince our client to refund the US$1 350 000 and that the properties would be vacated on receipt of payment. We pointed out that the occupation was unlawful and that the First Lady could not force the payment of the money through illegal occupations.
“If Fero had been acting in terms of a police investigation and the occupation was at the instance of the police, he most certainly would have advised me about this and he would not have ventured into issues related to the dispute between our client and the First Lady. That he made no reference to the police and their now claimed investigations coupled with the fact that I was not referred to Superintendent Viera speak volumes about the newly invented claims.”
In the letter, Mtetwa also states: “Instead, within hours of speaking to Fero I was called by a go-between who interceded on behalf of the First Lady requesting for an amicable and private settlement of the matter, a request that was acceded to and a draft agreement specifically included that the First Lady would cause her agents who were occupying the premises to “immediately vacate such properties”.
“This clause in the agreement was not in any way contested and it was only after the provisional order had been granted that the go-between only requested a change to the repaying terms so that US$650 000 would be paid as the first instalment.
Mtetwa went further to say: “Even at this late stage, nothing was said about the occupation having been at the instance of the police as a result of whatever investigations they might have been conducting.”
In Grace’s opposing affidavits, Viera states that he has been investigating Ahmed for months.
“The investigations of this individual have been ongoing for some months and are wide ranging,” he said.
“What is under investigation are allegations of theft, fraud, property acquisitions, money laundering, contravention of exchange control laws, his immigration status, purchase of minerals, loans he acquired and generally all those he might have done business with locally and the role each of the people might have played to facilitate his illegal activities,” reads the affidavit. Viera’s affidavit also states that: “While carrying out investigations which are advanced and which include the protection of properties under his portfolio in various vehicles, we came to learn of the theft/fraud he perpetrated against the First Lady.
“Coupled with all the other investigation material at hand, we applied and got a warrant of arrest against this individual. We alerted Interpol to assist us in extraditing him from any country he might be residing presumably Belgium, Dubai or Europe in general.”
However, Mtetwa is emphatic that Grace is using the police to shield herself.
“We wish to make it very clear that we do not believe that the unlawful occupation of private property where occupants, including employees and their children were displaced, were at the instance of the police. In our respective view, these are attempts by a few rogue police officers to shield the First Lady and to sully the image of the police force,” She stated in the letter.
“However, in the event that the police are indeed involved in the unlawful occupations and the displacements of innocent employees and their children, this constitutes a clear violation of the police duty to maintain law and order and to protect the lives and property of the people.
“That Harare Dispol had in fact been asked to provide the Sheriff to provide escorts to undertake the eviction can only serve to demonstrate that the latest version is fiction deliberately designed to frustrate a court order in violation of the constitutional mandate to enforce the law without fear or favour.
“Should the police therefore be responsible for these illegalities, we kindly request that our clients’ premises be vacated forthwith and in any event within 24 hours of the delivery of this letter. We also request that the police pay damages for the unlawful occupation of the premises from the 14th of October to date of vacation of the premises.
“In addition there will be damages arising from the fact that our clients have not been able to conduct business since the 14th (of) October.” Zimbabwe Independent