Grace Mugabe makes counter-challenge over diamond ring scandal

HARARE – Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace is suing fugitive Lebanese businessman Mr Jamal Joseph Ahmed for $1 230 000 over a diamond ring deal that went sour last year.

According to State media Grace Mugabe in April 2015 approached Mr Ahmed, who was in the business of diamond-cutting and polishing and ordered a 100-carat special ring worth $1 350 000 for her wedding anniversary.

She paid in advance through her CBZ Bank account. However, in breach of the agreement, Mr Ahmed failed to deliver the ring, triggering a legal wrangle. An attempt to refund the her hit a snag as Mr Ahmed only paid $120 000, leaving a balance of $1 230 000.

In her suit filed at the High Court yesterday, Grace is claiming the principal debt plus interest calculated from April 1, 2015 to the date of payment in full. Harare lawyer Mr Wilson Tatenda Manase of Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners is representing the First Lady in the million-dollar lawsuit.

Grace is seeking an order declaring Mr Ahmed’s shareholding in three companies — Thatchfree Investments, Zulaf Investments and Super Earth Properties — executable. She also seeks an order allowing her to attach the businessman’s immovable properties in Avondale and Vainona, Harare, if he fails to settle the debt. Mr Ahmed holds a Zimbabwean residence permit. He is into diamond-cutting, polishing and selling.

In her declaration, Grace stated that she contracted Mr Ahmed to supply the diamond ring in April 2015.

“The plaintiff wanted to purchase a unique diamond ring for her wedding anniversary celebrations. The parties agreed that the diamond ring would be at least 100 carats and the agreed price was US$1 350 000. The plaintiff duly instructed her bankers, CBZ Bank, to transfer the money into defendant’s bank account, to which the bank duly complied,” reads the declaration. Mr Ahmed, according to the declaration, became evasive and could not be located for some time after receiving payment.

After Grace put pressure on Mr Ahmed to deliver the ring, the businessman reportedly supplied a diamond ring which was far much less in value than the one paid for.

“In response, the defendant tendered a diamond ring worth US$30 000 and naturally, the plaintiff refused to take possession of an inferior ring,” the declaration reads. Mr Ahmed later agreed to pay back the $1 350 000 that had been advanced to him, and he only paid $120 000.

“Despite repeated demand, the defendant has neglected and failed to refund the full amount. The plaintiff has no other remedy but to seek redress from this very Honourable Court,” reads the court papers.

Meanwhile, state media although this has been refuted said Mr Ahmed is on the police wanted list over an assortment of commercial crimes and a warrant of arrest has since been issued against him. In his other court cases, his lawyers have been defending him in absentia. Mr Ahmed is yet to file his response to the $1,23 million claim.

The Lebanese businessman Jamal Ahmed, who is entangled an $1,35 million diamond ring wrangle with First Lady Grace Mugabe, has once again refuted claims that he is a fugitive from justice.

He claimed he had nowhere to stay after his properties were seized allegedly by President Robert Mugabe’s wife.

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 $1.3m diamond ring deal.

Harare High Court judge Clement Phiri on December 21 last year 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.

Ahmed made the remarks while responding to claims by Officer Commanding Crime, CID Law and Order, Superintendent Nyambo Viera that he was under investigation on several charges.

In his answering affidavit filed on Wednesday this week, Ahmed said Viera “must be one of the most inefficient superintendents in the police force”.

“I deny in the strongest possible terms that I am on the run and repeat that I left Harare to attend to my ailing father who subsequently died and that no one from the police had intimated they were interested in me,” Ahmed said.

“If as at October 2016 Nyambo Viera, who claims he has been conducting investigations since early 2016, had not even contacted me or attended at any of the premises to collect evidence, he must be the most inefficient superintendent in the entire police force… These are not investigations initiated in early 2016, but investigations by a captured police force in an endeavour to provide cover for the First Lady.”

The businessman said he had read “what purports to be the respondent’s (police) opposing papers”, seeking to deny to be joined in the property seizure matter. Ahmed said he was surprised at the absolute failure by the force to deal with the substance of the application and to provide supporting evidence that the police were investigating him.

“I note, with amazement, that an officer holding the rank of superintendent has not sought to take the court into confidence by clearly setting out what criminal activities he claims to be investigating, when exactly he commenced such investigations, who the complainants are, how far such investigations have progressed etc,” Ahmed said.

“I repeat that I am not on the run and the only reason I have not returned to Zimbabwe is that I have been threatened by the First Lady and in any event, I have nowhere to live. With the attitude adopted by the police, there can be no question that her threats are real and that I would get no assistance from the captured police force.”

He urged the court to take judicial notice of the fact that every report made to the police was recorded on receipt in the Reports Received Book (RRB) and as such he was challenging Viera to produce the relevant book where the reports were recorded.

“Only joinder would force the respondents (police) to place this documentation before the court. The lack of candour is, therefore, a good ground to join the respondents in the main application,” he said.

“…As the courts are obliged to do justice to all, including the police, irrespective of status, it is crucial that the police be before the court to explain the legal basis upon which the claim to have lawfully taken over private property and evicted lawful occupants without any form of due process.”

Ahmed also said to allow the police to “glibly hide behind investigation” would make virtually every owner of private property a sitting duck for the police “who can invade any private property, unlawfully kick out lawful occupants and install themselves on such private property rent-free for as long as they require free accommodation”.

The businessman reiterated that seizure of his properties was at the instigation of Grace following a botched diamond ring deal.

“I say the illegalities were at the instance of the respondents in the main application as the First Lady and her son (Russel Goreraza) had threatened the takeover of the properties and one of her security personnel admittedly supervised these illegalities,” he said.

In February this year, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri warned, through Viera, Beatrice Mtetwa, Ahmed’s lawyer, to desist from interfering with police investigations by allegedly helping Ahmed to play hide-and-seek with the law enforcement agents.

Commenting on Grace’s involvement in the matter, Viera said: “The insinuation that the police are acting in concert with the second respondent (Grace Mugabe) in the main case is ludicrous and meritless. The police are carrying out their mandate by investigating cases in which the second respondent in the main case is a complainant.”