Nqobile Tshili Bulawayo Bureau
GOVERNMENT has dismissed former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe’s claims that her farm and children’s home were invaded by illegal gold miners and clarified that security personnel to the former First Family was systematically reduced to comply with the law.
Mrs Mugabe told the private media that gold panners invaded her premises stealing 31 laptops and vandalising farm equipment in incidents she alleged were politically motivated.
However, in a statement yesterday, the Minister of Home Affairs and Culture, Dr Obert Mpofu, said gold panners had not invaded the said properties, but there was a mining dispute between the former First Family and three mining syndicates that is before the High Court.
He said the syndicates approached the High Court and were issued with a provisional order barring police and Gushungo Holdings from interfering with their mining activities under case number HC293/18.
“On March 29 2018, the former First Lady made a report at ZRP Mazowe alleging that 400 illegal miners had invaded her lemon plantation and vandalised the field and irrigation equipment. On March 30 2018, another report was made to the police that illegal miners had been sighted at the Amai Mugabe Children’s Home,” he said.
“The ZRP attended the scene on 30th and 31st March 2018 and established through interviews and physical checks that there were no illegal miners at the children’s home and lemon plantation. The enquiries revealed that there is a mining dispute between the former First Family and three mining syndicates – Mondo 3 led by Bright Maonga, Mondo 4 mining claim led by Shepherd Nyazvingo and Xmas 159 led by Mohammed Khan. The syndicates went to the High Court and obtained a provisional order which bars the police and Gushungo Holdings from interfering with their mining operations, High Court order HC293/18 refers.”
Dr Mpofu said the Government’s decision to reduce the number of police officers deployed to provide security to former president Mugabe’s family and properties made last month was in line with Statutory Instrument 153 of 2017.
“The Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Culture, would like to point out that the provision of security to the former First Family’s premises is regulated in terms of Statutory Instrument number 153/2017 which was issued by His Excellency, Cde E.D. Mnangagwa and gazetted on December 22 2017,” said Dr Mpofu.
“On March 9 2018, the security committee comprising Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe National Army and President’s Department met and resolved to reduce the deployed personnel to the former First Family to a total of 16 police officers. Let me reiterate that this review was guided by SI 153/2017.”
On Mrs Mugabe’s claims that 31 laptops were stolen, the minister said, her workers had reported that only eight were stolen and two of her employees were arrested in connection with the theft and one has since been convicted.
“On March 2 2018, the caretaker at the Amai Mugabe School in Mazowe noticed that eight laptops were missing from the storeroom and informed the school administrator on March 6 2018. A report was subsequently made to the police on March 8 2018. Police officers attended the scene and established that there was no sign of physical break-in and indications were that duplicate keys had been used to gain entry. This showed that the offence was an inside job,” said the minister.
Dr Mpofu said police investigations discovered that two employees at the school -Amos Masimure (29) and Wilson Pomba (32) – were the suspects and they were arrested.
The two have since appeared at the Bindura Magistrates’ Court.
The minister said Masimure was convicted and sentenced to two and half years in jail and ordered to restitute the complainant $1 500 while Pomba is out on $50 bail.
Dr Mpofu said six out of the stolen eight laptops that had been sold to some people in Harare have since been recovered.
He said Government, guided by the law, continues to provide adequate security to the former First Family.
“My ministry in consultation with other security services will, therefore, provide security to the former First Family as gazetted on 22 December 2017. Let me make it clear that all criminal reports related to security and property of the former First Family will be swiftly attended to and investigated without fear or favour,” said Dr Mpofu.