ZIMBABWE – CENTRAL Intelligence Organisation director-general Retired Major General Happyton Bonyongwe has attached mining equipment and other property at Africa Consolidated Resources offices in Harare after he won a US$10 million defamation suit against the firm’s director Mr Andrew Cranswick late last year.
He had sued Mr Cranswick over a WikiLeaks report that linked him to diamond looting in Chiadzwa.
High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo granted a default judgment against Mr Cranswick and also ordered him to pay costs of the suit.
The deputy sheriff has already attached the property from ACR’s Herbert Chitepo Avenue offices but is yet to remove it from the premises for auctioning. The property, according to a notice of attachment, includes two combined gold catchers, 14 sieves, a 10 000litre tank, fridges, generators, plasma television sets, furniture and many others.
Mr Cranswick has filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking to stop the removal of the property from ACR premises.
He deposed an affidavit from Gauteng in South Africa seeking to stop the removal and subsequent sale of the attached property. Mr Cranswick indicated in his affidavit that he was never served with the summons for the US$10 million defamation.
He said he had since instructed his lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange to file an application for rescission of the default judgment.
The urgent chamber application has been set down for hearing tomorrow (Tuesday) in Justice Hlatshwayo’s chambers. Mr Cranswick said he read about the US$10 million default judgment in the press and that he had not been served with the summons.
He argues that he has a strong defence to the summons and that the matter should be reset as an opposed matter. Mr Cranswick, who openly told the court he was not coming to Zimbabwe for fear of being “unlawfully” arrested, says he was not staying in the United Kingdom where service of the summons could have been done.
He argues that he was not in willful default and that the default judgment should be rescinded. Before the court proceedings were instituted, Rtd Maj Gen Bonyogwe’s former lawyer Mr Joseph Mafusire (now judge of the High Court) wrote to Mr Cranswick demanding the money.
The parties failed to agree, resulting in the filing of the lawsuit last year. The report the CIO boss complained about was headlined: “Regime elites looting deadly diamond field” and it was dispatched on December 8, 2009.
According to Rtd MajGen Bonyongwe’s lawyers, the report indicated that “certain highranking Zimbabwean Government officials and wellconnected elite were generating millions of dollars in personal income by engaging in illicit trade in diamonds from Chiadzwa mine in eastern Zimbabwe.”
Rtd MajGen Bonyongwe was mentioned among other officials or personnel or officers in the Zimbabwean Government. The letter quoted a portion of the WikiLeaks report that reads: “Cranswick said that RBZ Governor Gideon Gono, Grace Mugabe, wife of President Robert Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru, (the then) Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi, General Constantine Chiwenga and wife Jocelyn, CIO director Happyton Bonyongwe, Manicaland Governor Chris Mushohwe and several white Zimbabweans including Ken Sharpe, Greg Scott and Hendrick O’Neill, are involved in the Marange diamond trade.”
It was Rtd MajGen Bonyongwe’s contention that the report was false and he was never involved in any illegal trade of diamonds from Chiadzwa. He felt the report that reached millions worldwide seriously defamed him and that he should be paid damages.
“Our client was never involved in any trade in diamonds from Chiadzwa or anywhere else. He has not been involved in any mineral of whatever kind in Zimbabwe or elsewhere,” read the letter. Mr Cranswick’s conduct, Rtd MajGen Bonyongwe’s lawyers said, severely damaged his fame and reputation.