HARARE – A suitcase containing $150,000 (R2 080 552,50) in cash was stolen from ousted Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, a court in Harare has heard, with the suspected thieves spending the money on cars, houses and farm animals.
The three accused – which include Constancia Mugabe, 50, a relative of the president – appeared before Chinhoyi magistrates court on Wednesday, state media reported.
Constancia Mugabe had keys to Mugabe’s rural house in Zvimba, outside Harare, allowing the others, who were employed as cleaners, to gain full access to the property when the theft occurred sometime after December 1 last year.
“Johanne Mapurisa bought a Toyota Camry… and a house for $20,000 (R277 407,00) after the incident,” state prosecutor Teveraishe Zinyemba told the court.
“Saymore Nhetekwa also bought a Honda… and livestock which included pigs and cattle for an undisclosed amount.”
The chief prosecution witness in the case was named as a manager of the charity foundation run by Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
The three accused were bailed and are due back in court on January 24. One suspect is still at large.
US dollars are prized in crisis-hit Zimbabwe, where account holders are forced to queue for hours outside banks to try to withdraw their savings.
They are allowed to take out only limited sums, which are dispersed in local “bond notes” – which are theoretically equivalent to US dollars but are actually worth much less.
Mugabe’s whereabouts is unconfirmed since late November when President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his successor, said the ailing 94-year-old was in Singapore for medical treatment and was now unable to walk.
His 37-year reign was marked by state corruption, economic collapse and brutal repression of dissent.