Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabehas denied grabbing five properties belonging to a Lebanese tycoon whom she accuses of duping her in a botched $1.35 million diamond ring deal.
A Harare High Court judge Clement Phiri on December 21 issued a provisional order compelling President Robert Mugabe‘s wife to vacate within 24 hours from three properties that she had allegedly seized following the deal that allegedly went sour. Another order to the same effect was issued last week after she allegedly grabbed two more houses belonging to businessman Jamal Ahmed.
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Grace described Ahmed as an “international fraudster wanted by international police”.
According to a new set of court papers filed by Grace, challenging the High Court order, the First Lady claimed that she was being victimised by Ahmed.
This was the first time that Grace opened up about the deal.
“The truth is that in April 2016, I called Zeina, the first applicant’s wife, who lives in Dubai, I told her that I wanted a diamond and to have it set on a ring.
“Furthermore, I told her that this diamond was a gift from my husband [President Robert Mugabe] on our 20th marriage anniversary. She then said that she would give her husband, the first applicant (Ahmed), my number. I told her that the diamond was required, as my husband was saving for me for this stone for our 20thanniversary in August 2016.”
The Mugabes’ wedding ceremony was on August 17, 2016.
The First Lady said she later received a call from Zeina, who said she had sent pictures of different shapes of diamond for her to make a choice.
“On April 8, 2016, applicant’s wife (Ahmed wife Zeina), on his instructions, phoned me and told me she had sent pictures of different shapes of diamonds for my choices.” She said added that the gems were certified for colour, cut, clarity and weight by the Gemology Institute of America.
Grace, who claimed to be in possession of text and Whatsapp messages between her and the Lebanese national, said that Ahmed failed to show her the ring that she had ordered despite making a full payment resulting in her demanding a refund.
However, court papers filed by Ahmed when this matter came to light showed that Grace demanded her money back upon delivery of the ring, after she decided she no longer wanted the ring.
Threatened with harm
Grace insisted that she never got the ring delivered to her despite numerous attempts to cause Ahmed to do so.
“I called him and told him of the (wedding) anniversary date, August 17, which was fast approaching. He prevaricated and gave no definitive answer. I smelt a rat,” Grace said in her affidavit.
She added: “On August 3, I called him back and asked him to send the money back into my account. I insisted the money paid back into my CBZ (Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe) account. My bankers were also, on the other hand, asking for the money back after I told them of my plight.”
Ahmed has not denied that he owed the First Lady some money emanating from the botched deal but had offered to pay back the money in installments to her local account through a third party. To-date, Ahmed has paid pack a paltry $120 000. The Lebanese businessman charged that Grace demanded the refund to be made into her Dubai bank account.
The First Lady, however, denied having a bank account in Dubai.
“I have never thought of externalising money, neither can I do so, as any account I open will be pounced upon, as we are on sanctions with my husband. We lead by example,” she said in her court papers.
Ahmed, who lives outside the country, said he wanted to be protected after he was allegedly threatened with harm by Grace’s son, Rusell Goreraza, her son-in-law Simba Chikore, and Kennedy Fero, believed to be part of her security personnel. The Lebanese businessman says he is now finding it difficult to return to Zimbabwe following the threats.
However , a Ahmed is not on interpol wanted persons list.