Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
POLICE have dismissed as false claims that First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe “grabbed” properties belonging to Lebanese businessman Mr Jamal Ahmed, saying the assets in question were duly placed under police guard as part of an investigation into an assortment of criminal allegations against the mogul.
Mr Ahmed on December 21 last year obtained an interdict at the High Court against Dr Mugabe, her son Mr Russel Goreraza and a top police officer Superintendent Kennedy Fero, whom he accused of unlawfully occupying and taking over his three houses.
However, the three respondents — through Mr Wilson Manase of Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners — this week approached the court seeking discharge of an order granted in favour of Mr Ahmed by Justice Clement Phiri last month.
In a notice of opposition filed at the High Court on Monday, the lawyers attached separate affidavits by Superintendents Nyambo Viera and Kennedy Fero confirming the placement of Mr Ahmed’s property under police guard had nothing to do with the First Family.
Detective Superintendent Viera stated in his affidavit that he was investigating Mr Ahmed in connection with a number of cases involving fraud, theft, property acquisition, money laundering, purchase of minerals, and Exchange Control laws.
Police, according to Superintendent Viera, are also investigating a case in which the First Lady lost $1,3 million to Mr Ahmed.
To that end, police have deployed officers to protect the properties — two in Avondale and one along Harare Drive in Vainona — pending finalisation of investigations.
“We are unaware that the First Lady forcibly took over any property belonging to Jamal Ahmed. All we can confirm is that the properties are under police guard to facilitate investigations.”
Supt Viera added: “What is under investigation are allegations of theft, fraud, property acquisitions, money laundering, contravention of Exchange Control laws, his immigration status, purchase of minerals, loans he acquired and, generally, all those he might have done business with locally and the role each of the people might have played to facilitate his illegal activities.”
Police want to find out how Mr Ahmed acquired several properties in Zimbabwe in a short space of time.
Supt Viera indicated that police were looking for Mr Ahmed and requests for his extradition from whichever country he might be have since been sent through Interpol.
“While carrying out our investigations, which are advanced, we came to learn of the theft/fraud he perpetrated against the First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe.
“Coupled with all the other investigation material, we applied and got a warrant of arrest against this individual.
“We alerted Interpol to assist us in extraditing him from any country he might be residing (in), presumably Belgium, Dubai or Europe in general. With that red flag, we expect compliance from our colleagues in various countries where he may be to assist in bringing Jamal Ahmed into Zimbabwe to assist the police in their investigations,” reads the affidavit.
In her opposing affidavit, Dr Mugabe denied ever being served with the application that later culminated into an interdict order against her.
She argued that if the court had allowed her to present her case, it would not have granted the interim relief.
Dr Mugabe denied allegations that she forcibly took over the properties in question.
“I therefore deny forcibly taking over the said premises. Had the court heard our side of the story as respondents, there might have been no need to grant the interim relief as it did, merely to scandalise me and the institution of the Presidency,” said the First Lady.
“No one has stated, including the first applicant (Mr Ahmed), that he saw the first and second respondents commandeering matters at the houses concerned.
“To then direct that respondents were responsible for any misfortune that befell the first applicant is to say the least, being economic with the truth,” she said.
Dr Mugabe said she was out of the country when the said “invasion” took place together with Mr Goreraza.
She said Mr Ahmed and his lawyers, Mtetwa and Nyambirai, made malicious and defamatory statements against the First Family with an intention of causing political damage.
“I am aware that first applicant and his lawyers are on a mission to demonise the family and to disparage them far and wide for political purposes,” she said.
“I notice that the first applicant and his legal practitioners have gone to town in an effort to demonise the respondents locally and internationally for no apparent reason, painting a picture of people who do not observe the rule of law but who take the law into their own hands,” the First Lady said.
Dr Mugabe said she was a victim of fraud allegedly perpetrated by Mr Ahmed and that she had nothing to do with the protection of the properties in question by the police.
Supt Fero said CID Law and Order, who were investigating cases involving Mr Ahmed, ordered that the three properties be secured and protected to allow smooth investigations.
He stated that the First Lady and her son never came near the properties in question.
“I can confirm here and now that at no time did the first and second respondents ever get near these above-mentioned premises for any reason whatsoever.
“This is purely a police operation. If any person was removed from the premises, it was for their security and safety as I had been told that first applicant, a Lebanese national, was an international criminal who could possibly be dangerous as his illegal activities are far wide and ranging.
“I did my duties as directed of securing the premises mentioned. We still are awaiting the return of first applicant (Mr Ahmed) to Zimbabwe,” he said.