Grace seeks dismissal of Mazowe miners' $100k defamation lawsuit

HARARE - Lawyers for former first lady Grace Mugabe will ask the High Court to dismiss a $100 000 defamation lawsuit against her after she was sued by small-scale miners she accused of invading her Mazowe family farm, branding them thieves stealing her property.

The miners, Shepherd Nyazvigo and Phillip Makanya, filed summons against Grace before the High Court, following utterances by the former first lady that they were thugs unlawfully carrying out mining operations.

Grace has entered an appearance to defend the defamation suit, showing her intention to challenge the summons.

“Be pleased to take notice that on the 24th day of April 2018 at 9:14am, defendant (Grace) entered an appearance to defend in this matter,” her lawyers Chivore Dzingirai Group of Lawyers said.

The court summons came after Grace accused the two applicants of stealing some of her property.

“The first plaintiff (Nyazvigo) duly represented by second plaintiff (Makanya), one Bright Mawonga and Rizwan Khan who holds mining claims Mondo 3 and Xmas 159, are embroiled in a dispute of ownership with Gushungo Holdings (Private) Limited and the dispute is pending in the High Court.

“On the 2nd of April, 2018, the defendant (Grace) uttered words and caused to be published in The Herald being a daily circulating newspaper and read by millions of people that the plaintiffs whom she referred to as illegal miners invaded her farm and are unlawfully carrying mining operations thereon and also destroying her lemon fruit trees,” the court was told.

The duo further said after being reported about in the newspaper, the utterances portrayed the pair as lawlessness people, who are involved in illegal mining activities at Grace’s property and are damaging and destroying her property.

“The defendant personally confronted the second plaintiff and in the presence of their employees she said that the second plaintiff is a thief who is stealing from her farm.

“Further the defendant alleges the plaintiffs as untrustworthy people and thieves who are stealing the property belonging to the defendant. The plaintiffs are now being viewed by their business associates, colleagues and members of the public and society at large as thieves and illegal miners yet the plaintiffs hold licences to carry mining operations thereon. The plaintiffs suffered damages in defamation of character as a result of the utterances by defendant…,” the court heard.

The pair is now demanding $100 000 in damages for defamation of character and interest prescribed at the rate of five percent per annum from the date of the summons to the date of judgment.

Nyazvigo and Khan are embroiled in a bitter wrangle with the Mugabes over the Mazowe Smithfield Farm.

The parties are in court fighting over the property, with the miners demanding to remain on site, while the Mugabes want them evicted.

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