Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
FORMER First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe has been slapped with a $100 000 lawsuit for allegedly labelling two gold miners in Mazowe as illegal miners and thieves.
Mr Shepherd Nyazvigo and Mr Phillip Makanya, who jointly extract gold at Mondo 4 mining claim at Smithfield Farm in Mazowe, argue that Mrs Mugabe labelled them “illegal miners” when they were licensed operators.
Mrs Mugabe allegedly defamed the two men in a pending land dispute in which the parties are fighting for Smithfield Farm.
The two men are embroiled in a dispute over ownership and control of the mining claims with the former First Family and the case is still pending at the High Court.
Former president Mr Robert Mugabe claims proprietorship of the expansive Smithfield Farm through his Gushungo Holdings (Private) Limited.
He was evicted from the property in January this year to give unimpeded access to small-scale gold miners — Shepherd Nyazvigo, Bright Mawonga and Mohammed Rezwan Khan, who claim to be the rightful owners of the same property.
Gushungo Holdings argue that the gold miners have no right to mine claims, which are subject to a subsisting special grant.
The court is being asked to determine whether gold miners have any rights to the mining claims in question.
While the main dispute was pending, two of the miners – Mr Nyazvigo and Mr Makanya – have approached the High Court claiming defamation from Mrs Mugabe, to the tune of $100 000.
They accuse the former First Lady of labelling them “illegal miners” and thieves.
“On the second of April 2018, the defendant uttered words and caused to be published in The Herald, being a daily circulating newspaper, read by millions of people that the plaintiffs whom she referred to as illegal miners, invaded her farm and are unlawfully carrying out mining operations thereon and also destroying her lemon fruit trees,” reads the plaintiff’s declaration.
“She further alleges that the plaintiffs whom she referred to as illegal miners, stole her property.”
Mrs Mugabe is accused of confronting the pair, in the presence of her farm workers, saying Mr Makanya was a thief.
“The utterances by the defendant and the resultant publication in the Herald newspaper portrayed the plaintiffs as lawless people who are involved in illegal mining activities in the defendant’s property.
“They also portray them as people who are damaging defendant’s property including the lemon trees,” reads the plaintiff’s declaration.
The pair contend that the former First Lady portrayed them as unworthy people and thieves who were stealing her property.
“Plaintiffs are now being viewed by their business associates, colleagues and members of the public as thieves and illegal miners, yet they hold licences to carry out mining operations there,” the declaration reads.
To that end, the two claim that they have suffered damages to the tune of $100 000.
They are also claiming interest at the rate of five percent per annum plus costs of suit.
Mrs Mugabe is yet to respond to the claim.