House saga: Court clears First Lady
THE High Court has rescinded an erroneous court order that compelled First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and her son Mr Russell Goreraza to vacate three houses belonging to a fugitive Lebanese businessman Jamal Ahmed.
Judge president George Chiweshe set aside the order after the First Family’s lawyer Mr Wilson Manase of Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners successfully argued that his clients had nothing to do with the alleged grabbing of the property and that Dr Mugabe’s name had been soiled unfairly.
The police have since told the court that they placed the houses in question under police guard as part of their investigations into criminal allegations against Ahmed. Ahmed, who is believed to be in hiding, is on the police wanted list for alleged money
laundering among other offences.
The judgment handed down yesterday, cleared the First Lady and her son of “house grabbing” and if Ahmed still insists on pursuing the case, he has an option of suing the police.
In December last year, Justice Clement Phiri was misled into granting an order against Amai Mugabe and Mr Goreraza when the two had been wrongly cited as respondents. An attempt by Mr Manase to seek a postponement of the case on the eleventh hour, was dismissed resulting in the issuance of the order compelling the two to vacate the houses they never occupied.
To that end, Mr Manase filed an application at the High Court for rescission of the judgment.
The Judge president, in his judgement, described the order by Justice Phiri as erroneous before setting it aside.
“I am satisfied that the order of Phiri J, having been erroneously sought and erroneously issued, must be set aside in terms of Rule 449(1) (a) of the High Court Rules 1971. If allowed to stand, it would cause an injustice. The rules allow me to so proceed even in the absence of any application from either party.
“Accordingly, it is ordered as follows:
1. The order of this court, given under the hand of Phiri J on 21 December 2016 under case number HC12497/16, be and is hereby rescinded.
2. The applicants (Ahmed) shall pay the costs of suit.”
The Judge president found that Justice Phiri erroneously issued a final order when the situation called for a provisional order.
Judge president Chiweshe said the First Lady and her son were never served with the urgent chamber application since they were out of the country on holiday.
Granting a final order against them without hearing their side of the story was unfair, the court ruled. “The judge and both parties were under the impression that a provisional order and not a final order had been granted.
“If Phiri J had been advised that the interim relief was framed in terms of a final order, he would not have granted it without hearing the applicants who were on holiday outside the country…” said the Judge president.
Judge president Chiweshe said the erroneous order was issued without establishing the correct identity of the perpetrators.
He added that the fact that the police had exonerated the First Lady and her son supports the notion that the order was erroneous. “Even if the facts of the spoliation were established, it would still be incumbent upon the applicant to establish the identity of the perpetrator . . .
“The respondents also point out that the police as having confirmed that it was the force that was occupying the properties as part of an investigation against first applicant who is accused of money laundering and other offences,” the Judge president said.