By Charles Laiton
Former First Lady Grace Mugabe has asked the High Court to dismiss a US$2 million defamation lawsuit filed against her by a Lebanese businessman whose houses she grabbed over a diamond ring dispute.
The Lebanese businessman, Jamal Hamed, approached the High Court demanding a total of US$4 million from Grace and her son, Russell Goreraza, as defamation compensation and damages to his three houses he alleges were seized by Grace.
Prior to the defamation battle, Jamal had earlier on been embroiled in another legal saga with Grace over a diamond ring when her husband, the late former President Robert Mugabe was still ruling.
In his current lawsuit, Jamal said he was a renowned diamond entrepreneur who, among other businesses, trades in diamonds both within and outside Zimbabwe and that between October 2016 and December 2017, Grace and Goreraza caused a statement to be published in connection with the diamond ring saga, claiming that he had breached the terms and conditions of the deal.
Consequently, he said the published statements depicted him as a criminal, tarnishing his image both locally and internationally for which he is demanding US$2 million.
The businessman cited Grace, Goreraza, police officers Kennedy Fero and Nyambo Viera and Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga in his official capacity as respondents.
However, in their plea filed on February 25, 2020, Grace and her son urged the court to dismiss the claims.
“The court proceedings referred to were filed by the first plaintiff (Jamal Hamed) and in terms of the law,” they said.
“The first and second defendants (Grace and Goreraza) were obliged to respond thereto. Their responses in the court proceedings were lawful and privileged.
“Further, it is correct that the plaintiff breached the contract and pursuant to the breach, offered to compensate the first defendant (Grace), which to date he has not done so.”
Added Grace: “The date of the alleged publication and where the said publication took place is not stated. If the said publication took place prior to 2017, this claim has prescribed.
“The statements attributed to the first and second defendants, if made in court proceedings, were made lawfully and in their context were not defamatory or unlawful.
“It is denied that a reasonable reader would interpret court proceedings as ascribed by the plaintiff to the extent that any statement referred to the breach of contract and failure to remedy that breach, the statements are accurate.”
The matter is pending. NewsDay