Mugabe's staff accused of stealing from a briefcase holding $1m in cash

25 January 2019 - 16:09 By JAMES THOMPSON
Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe got wind that his employees were enjoying lavish lifestyles and upon investigation found that $922,000 was missing from a briefcase.
Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe got wind that his employees were enjoying lavish lifestyles and upon investigation found that $922,000 was missing from a briefcase.
Image: Picture: REUTERS

Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe kept as much as $1m (R13.7m) in cash stashed in a briefcase, according to revelations in a court case in which housekeeping staff are accused of stealing from him.

Mugabe was ousted in November 2017 and replaced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A relative cum housekeeper, Constance Mugabe, 50, along with other employees, Saymore Nheketwa, 47, Andrew Mahumbe, 37, and Johannes Mapurisa, 50, have appeared before Chinhoyi magistrate Tawengwa Chibanda on theft charges.

It is the state’s case that Mugabe  realised that he had lost $922,000 (R12.7m) to the workers at his rural home in Zvimba after discovering that there was only $78,000 (R1m) in the briefcase which he had entrusted to Constance.

Mugabe, according to court papers, gave Constance a Blue Deisey Club briefcase, an Amiet briefcase and a black Polo Club briefcase in 2016. He did not inform her that one was packed with $1m.

Having got wind in March 2018 that his employees were enjoying lavish lifestyles, Mugabe demanded that the briefcases be brought to his private residence "The Blue Roof" in Borrowdale, Harare, the richest square mile in Zimbabwe.

Police investigations revealed that the quartet allegedly bought cars, houses and other luxuries with the stolen loot. Only $42,800 (R590,000) was recovered.

The suspects are out on $200 (R2,750) bail each and will appear in court on February 7.

It was reported in 2018 that the former head of state, whose pension stood at $467,200 (R6.4m) and monthly pension of $13,333 (R183,000), demanded that all his money be paid in cash.

It was also alleged that during his tenure as president, a senior commercial bank employee would go to Mugabe’s office to pay him in cash.

This is the second court case in which the former president is the complainant. Earlier this year, a presidential guard, Pepukai Zvakavapano, 32, was accused of stealing 119 laptops, three desktop computers and accessories. Mugabe testified from home during Zvakavapano's trial.

He was acquitted after the state failed to prove its case.


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