Harare - Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has allegedly grabbed two more properties from a Lebanese businessman, despite the court ordering her to vacate the three houses that she initially seized in a botched $1.3-million diamond ring deal.
Harare High Court judge Clement Phiri on December 21 ruled against President Robert Mugabe's controversial wife after she forcefully took ownership of three properties belonging Lebanese tycoon Jamal Ahmed, and gave her 24 hours to pack her bags and allow Ahmed's employees to return to the seized houses.
New court papers showed that the First Lady had taken ownership and control of two more houses belonging to Ahmed, who told the court recently that he now feared to return to Zimbabwe after being threatened with harm by Grace's son Russell Goreraza, her son-in-law Simba Chikore and Kennedy Fero. The three were part of Grace's security personnel.
One of Ahmed's employees, Talent Kasiya, deposed an affidavit at the High Court on January 3, claiming that two more houses belonging to his employer had again been seized.
"On Sunday December 18 I attended Dungarvan House, Wilson Avenue in Borrowdale, where I saw two men whom I recognised as having been part of the group that had initially come to the Cambridge Road premises. I noticed that the lock at the back entrance of Dungarvan House had in fact been broken and, as there was noone manning the gate, I was able to enter," read part of the affividavit.
Second eviction order
Ahmed's attorney, Beatrice Mtetwa, confirmed the latest development.
"When the courts opened on Tuesday, it issued a second eviction order for the two additional houses and we are now waiting for the deputy sheriff to deliver the notices. If the First Lady and any of her representatives refuse to vacate the five premises then they would be in contempt of court," said Mtetwa.
However, Grace's lawyer, Wellington Pasipanodya said the First Lady was yet to be served with the notices.
"My client is out of the country and has not been advised of the notices. She was out of the country when the said properties were allegedly invaded," said Pasipanodya.
Sources in the deputy sheriff's offices said the order issued by Justice Phiri could not be served on the First Lady because he was barred by soldiers manning the First Lady's residence in the leafy Borrowadale suburb.
"Macauff Madega (the sheriff of the High Court) was barred by soldiers upon his arrival at BlueRoof (Mugabe's residence) who said that the area fell under protected areas and he could not deliver the notice," said one source.
The dispute was sparked by the First Lady's refusal to accept a polished diamond ring that she had ordered from Ahmed. The ring was meant to be Mugabe's gift to Grace to mark their 20th wedding anniversary.
Court papers showed that Grace paid $1.3-million for the ring using her local bank account. When she demanded a refund after deciding that she no longer wanted the ring, the First Lady demanded that Ahmed pays the money into her account held at a Dubai bank. Ahmed, however, refused, saying anti-money laundering laws did not allow him to do so and opted to pay the First Lady in installments through a third party. But Grace refused, resulted in her seizing Ahmed's properties.