MEMBERS of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) tasked to guard five properties owned by Lebanese entrepreneur Jamal Joseph Hamed in Harare’s plush suburbs, allegedly at the behest of former First Lady Grace Mugabe (pictured) have abandoned the properties and moved off site, NewsDay has established.
By Kumbirai Mafunda
The development, which came shortly after Grace’s 93-year-old husband former President Robert Mugabe succumbed to public and military pressure and stepped down dramatically on November 21, confirms the adage that “when days are dark friends are few”.
Mugabe resigned following a military intervention codenamed Operation Restore Legacy, which the army claimed was aimed at “removing criminals surrounding the President”.
Now lonely without the support of State machinery and her Zanu PF loyalists, the ruling party’s former Iron Lady and women’s league boss should be feeling more exposed after police dumped the properties at the centre of her private lawsuit in a controversial $1,2 million diamond ring saga.
Grace, whom Zimbabweans often ridiculed for her penchant for an expensive lifestyle, allegedly engaged Jamal in April 2015 to secure a diamond ring worth $1,2 million for her wedding anniversary celebrations, which she then claimed the entrepreneur failed to deliver on time and only repaid $120 000.
This compelled the former First Lady to file an application in the High Court seeking an order declaring Jamal’s shareholding in some of his companies auctionable and to attach his residential properties.
But Jamal’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, in December 2016, petitioned the High Court protesting that Grace’s son, Russell Goreraza, and suspected accomplice Kennedy Fero had illegally enlisted the police to occupy and hold onto Jamal’s properties in Avondale, Vainona and Borrowdale suburbs as the diamond ring saga raged on.
In response to the High Court application, police claimed they occupied Jamal’s properties on the basis that they were exhibits in an alleged criminal matter involving the Lebanese entrepreneur.
Efforts by Jamal’s lawyer to evict Grace’s agents and repossess the properties came to naught as police dug in, refusing to move out, claiming the businessman had defrauded Mugabe’s wife in the ring deal.
NewsDay has gathered that of the five properties, only one has been left under the care of a private security firm as police moved out.
“We have since received information that some of the properties have since been abandoned, with at least one property being under the control of a private security company,” part of a letter written by Jamal’s lawyer to Superintendent Nyambo Viera, who has been leading investigations into the alleged fraudulent diamond ring saga, read.
Through Mtetwa, Jamal expressed concern about the security of the properties considering that the ZRP officers who had been occupying them had since vacated.
“Our client is naturally concerned at the security and safety of his properties and the assets thereat and we request that you urgently arrange that the police in the company of our client’s representatives, attend at each one of the premises without delay so that proper inventories can be taken and so that our client can be satisfied that the assets are not in danger of being vandalised,” Mtetwa wrote to Viera.
Besides assisting Grace to occupy Jamal’s properties, the ZRP also assisted the former First Lady to occupy Manzou Farm in Mazowe and evict some families from the farm.
However, the families, who got assistance from lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, successfully challenged their eviction in the High Court and continued residing at the farm although they were frequently persecuted by police officers who destroyed their homesteads.
Last month, the villagers celebrated the ouster of Mugabe and some of them have begun suing the police for damage and loss of property.