GOVERNMENT has dismissed claims by former First Lady Grace Mugabe that gold panners had invaded her citrus farm in Mazowe, saying instead, she was embroiled in a mining dispute with three mining syndicates.
Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu told journalists in Bulawayo yesterday that police could not intervene in the dispute, as the mining syndicates were armed with a High Court order barring police and law enforcement agents from interfering with their mining operations.
Grace on March 29 filed a report at Mazowe Police Station alleging that 400 illegal miners had invaded her farm, and vandalised irrigation equipment.
The following day, she filed another report claiming the panners had broken into her orphanage and stolen 31 laptops.
However, Mpofu yesterday disputed the claims and accused Grace of lying.
“The ZRP attended the scene on March 30 and 31, 2018 and established through interviews and physical checks that there were no illegal miners at the children’s home and lemon plantation,” Mpofu said.
“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 police and Gushungo Holdings from interfering with their mining operations, High Court order HC 293/18 refers.”
On the alleged theft of 31 laptops by the suspected illegal panners, Mpofu said eight laptops were stolen on March 2 by the former First Lady’s employees, who have since been arrested, dragged to court and sentenced.
“On March 2, 2018, the caretaker at 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,” Mpofu said.
He added that Grace’s two employees, Amos Masimure (29) and Wilson Pomba (32), were arrested for unlawful entry and theft, leading to the recovery of six of the laptops.
Masimure appeared at Bindura Magistrates’ Court on March 14, was found guilty and sentenced to two-and-half years in jail.
He was also ordered to “restitute complainant a sum of $1 500 before 30 April”.
Pomba was granted $50 bail and further remanded to April 9 for trial.