Only $2,000 Recovered from $500,000 Theft at Mugabe’s Blue Roof Home
28 May 2024
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By A Correspondent | Four former employees of Grace Mugabe have been accused of stealing household property and cutlery worth an estimated US$500,000 from the late President Robert Mugabe’s Blue Roof home in Borrowdale, Harare. Despite the substantial value of the stolen goods, only $2,000 worth of items has been recovered so far.

The accused, Allen Chinamonya, 42, Danmore Chinamonya, 35, Samson Karonga, and Brighton Bunganirwa, 46, appeared before Harare magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa. Their bail application is set for this Tuesday. The court heard that the four men, who held various positions such as driver, groundsman, electrician, and gardener, allegedly conspired to steal the goods between 2018 and May 2024.

According to state prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti, Grace Mugabe had moved 11 containers filled with household items from State House to the Blue Roof residence after Robert Mugabe was ousted in 2017. She secured the containers by locking them, but the accused reportedly broke the padlocks and stole various items, including television sets, clothes, cutlery, and bath towels.

The theft was discovered on May 22, 2024, when Grace Mugabe visited the containers to select artefacts for donation to the African Liberation Museum. The case was reported to Borrowdale police on May 25.

Despite the high value of the stolen goods, police detectives have managed to recover only $2,000 worth of items. Recovered items from Allen Chinamonya’s home included a cream men’s suit, a white short-sleeved men’s suit, a green cover bed, a cream cover bed, and a black and silver television set. From Danmore Chinamonya’s home, they recovered a navy blue short-sleeved men’s suit and a flowery Zanu PF long-sleeved shirt. Grace Mugabe positively identified these items as part of the stolen goods.

The accused are facing charges of theft, breach of trust, and violation of property laws under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act of Zimbabwe. The specific breaches include Section 113 (theft), Section 114 (unlawful entry), and Section 117 (criminal abuse of trust or office). If convicted, the accused could face severe penalties, including imprisonment.

### Case Law Analysis

Under Zimbabwean law, the principles of theft and breach of trust are well established. Section 113 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act criminalizes theft, which is defined as unlawfully taking property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner. This principle aligns with common law traditions seen in jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, where theft is similarly defined under the Theft Act 1968. In both jurisdictions, the intent to permanently deprive is a critical element of the offence.

Section 114 deals with unlawful entry, which in this case pertains to the breaking of padlocks to access the containers. This offense is comparable to burglary laws in other jurisdictions, such as the United States, where unlawful entry with intent to commit theft or another felony is classified under various state statutes.

Section 117 addresses criminal abuse of trust or office, highlighting the aggravated breach due to the accused’s positions of trust. This is mirrored in many legal systems, where fiduciary responsibilities and trust are taken seriously, and breaches are met with stringent penalties. For example, in South Africa, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act imposes severe penalties for abuse of office, reflecting the gravity of such offenses.

### International Context

Internationally, the principles surrounding theft, breach of trust, and unlawful entry are consistently upheld. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) emphasizes the importance of integrity and accountability in public and private sectors. Zimbabwe, as a signatory, aligns its legal frameworks to these international standards, ensuring that crimes involving breach of trust and theft are thoroughly prosecuted.

The case also draws parallels with high-profile theft cases worldwide, such as the famous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist in the United States, where only a fraction of the stolen artwork has been recovered decades later. Such cases highlight the challenges in recovering stolen property and the importance of robust legal mechanisms to deter and address theft.

As the court proceedings continue, the legal community will closely watch how Zimbabwean law is applied to ensure justice. The recovery of only a small fraction of the stolen goods underscores the need for stringent security measures and rigorous enforcement of laws to protect property and uphold trust.