Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

CIO boss wins US$10 million WikiLeaks case

By Daniel Nemukuyu

CENTRAL Intelligence Organisa­tion director-general Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe yester­day won a US$10 million defamation suit against Africa Consolidated Resources boss Andrew Cranswick.

The head of Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Happyton Bonyongwe, left, with Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwean Army, centre, with Mugabe
The head of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation Happyton Bonyongwe, left, with Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwean Army, centre, with Mugabe

Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe sued Mr Cranswick over a WikiLeaks report that linked him to diamond looting in Chi­adzwa. High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo granted a default judg­ment against Mr Cranswick and ordered him to pay costs of the suit.

“The application for rescission of judgment is hereby dismissed with costs. The application for default judg­ment be and is hereby granted.

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“The defendant (Mr Cranswick) shall pay to the plaintiff the sum of US$10 million as damages for defama­tion together with interest thereon at the prescribed rate calcu­lated with effect from the date of judg­ment to the date of full payment both dates inclu­sive.

“The defendant shall pay costs of suit,” ruled Justice Hlatshwayo. Acting on behalf of Mr Cranswick, Harare lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange said he would contest the outcome at the Supreme Court.

“Naturally, we have to appeal against such an order. We are going to file a Supreme Court challenge soon. We are waiting for the record and when it is ready, we will draft the appeal papers,” he said.

Before the court proceedings were instituted, Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyogwe’s lawyer Mr Joseph Mafusire of Scanlen and Holderness law firm wrote to Mr Cranswick demanding the money. The parties failed to agree, resulting in the filing of the lawsuit last year.

The report the CIO boss com­plained about was headlined: “Regime elites looting deadly diamond field” and it was dispatched on December 8, 2009.

According to Rtd Maj-Gen Bony­ongwe’s lawyers, the report indicated that “certain high-ranking Zimbab­wean Government officials and well-connected elite were generating mil­lions of dollars in personal income by engaging in illicit trade in diamonds from Chiadzwa mine in eastern Zim­babwe.”

Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe was men­tioned among other officials or per­sonnel or officers in the Zimbabwean Government.

Mr Mafusire, in the above-men­tioned letter, quoted a portion of the WikiLeaks report that reads:

“Cran­swick said that RBZ Governor Gideon Gono, Grace Mugabe, wife of Presi­dent Robert Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru, (the then) Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi, General Constantine Chi­wenga and wife Jocelyn, CIO director Happyton Bonyongwe, Manicaland Governor Chris Mushohwe and sev­eral white Zimbabweans including Ken Sharpe, Greg Scott and Hendrick O’Neill, are involved in the Marange diamond trade.”

It was Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe’s contention that the report was false and he was never involved in any ille­gal trade of diamonds from Chiadzwa. He felt the report that reached mil­lions worldwide seriously defamed him and that he should be paid dam­ages.

“Our client was never involved in any trade in diamonds from Chiadzwa or anywhere else. He has not been involved in any mineral of whatever kind in Zimbabwe or elsewhere,” Mr Mafusire said.

Mr Cranswick’s conduct, Mr Mafusire argued, severely damaged Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe’s fame and repu­tation. It has impugned his dignity and char­acter, he said.

“As a result of your conduct, our client has suffered damages. He intends to clear his name. That is done by claiming damages for defamation. In the premises, we are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, payment of the sum of US$10 million as damages for defamation,” said Mr Mafusire.

The lawsuit was filed at the time the First Lady Grace Mugabe filed a US$15 million defamation claim against The Standard Newspaper that published stories based on the same WikiLeaks report. Dr Gono also filed a US$12,5 million suit against the same newspaper over the report. The Herald