MUTARE – Grace Mugabe has been dragged into a tyre theft row after her Queen of Grace’s national secretary-general claimed his prosecution was aimed at tarnishing the first lady’s name.
President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, is the patron of Queen of Grace.
Ephraim Chizola, of St Martin’s in Harare, is standing trial for stealing three tyres.
The 34-year-old allegedly failed to return the tyres lent to him by a fellow Zanu PF political activist last August after he had a breakdown on his way to Harare.
Chizola, who is being tried by magistrate Yeukai Chigodora, has since had a warrant of arrest issued against him after skipping court on Wednesday.
He is denying the charges.
The Queen of Grace leader is being charged with theft as defined under section 113 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act chapter 9:23.
It was the State’s case that sometime in August 2015, Chizola had three tyre punctures and asked Miriam Manhenga, a member of an unnamed political group, for assistance so that he could proceed with his journey to Harare.
He promised to return with the tyres but never did, leaving Manhenga with no option but to file theft charges against him.
However, Chizola is claiming that Manhenga is trying to tarnish his reputation and the image of Queen of Grace and the first lady, who is the face of it.
He claimed that the litigation has high political interest rather than the desire to recover her tyres, further claiming that Munhenga was being paid to drag his name through the mud.
Chizola said he had the breakdown at the first lady’s service, and the litigation was therefore a personal attack on her.
Munhenga, however, insisted that there was nothing political about the whole issue.
She told the court that when she approached Chizola to ask about her tyres, he assaulted her with the assistance of his wife.
Munhenga said the first lady should not be dragged into the issue because the tyres were handed directly to Chizola.