Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe has bought two mansions worth more than $8-million in Johannesburg and Harare this year, an investigation has revealed.
According to a report in the Zimbabwe Independent, which has conducted a long-running investigation into the property acquisition spree of President Mugabe’s wife, a $3,4 million (R45 million) palatial house in the affluent Sandhurst suburb of Johannesburg is not the only mansion she has snapped up in recent months.
It has also emerged that Grace has been renting a sprawling property owned by Angolan immigrants for more than $15 000 (R200 000) a month.
This is where she has been holed up since Sunday after allegedly assaulting a 20-year-old South African model, Gabriella Engels, she found in the company of her two sons in a Sandton hotel.
The rented six-bed-roomed property is in Sandhurst at an address known to African Independent, Sandton’s most affluent suburb. The house has been valued at $3 million (R40 million).
Described in a real-estate catalogue as “a once- in-a-lifetime statement for a privileged and discerning connoisseur”, the rented house features numerous reception areas, consisting of formal lounge, baronial-size dining room, informal lounge and pub area, all opening to patios.
The rented property also has a superb outside entertainment area for comfortable entertaining and al fresco surprises.
It also has a first-rate new kitchen designed for easy access to all working areas fully fitted with imported appliances, cold room, and breakfast area.
There is also a basement man-cave and entertainment centre with own wine cellar, cigar bar, feature bar and fully equipped cinema. The house has a guest suite with elegant dressing room and luxurious bathroom.
Upstairs, there is a landing informal lounge opening to balconies with inspiring views.
On Thursday, African Independent’s sister paper The Star revealed that Grace has bought a property around the corner in Sandhurst for $3,4 million (R45 million) and was negotiating to buy another mansion.
The Sandhurst property she has bought is located on Killarney Road.
The price of the property on Killarney Road could go up to a whopping R49 million ($3,7 million) when transfer costs, renovations and finishings are added.
In Harare, Mugabe’s wife has also acquired another property in the plush suburb of Hellensvale for $4,5 million. As part of the purchase agreement, the former owners have been allowed to stay on the property for the next three years.
The real-estate deal between Grace’s family and a local resident Jan Teede and his wife Fiona Campbell has been finalised.
It is unclear where Grace and her family are getting such large sums of money. Their known loss-making businesses and meagre official incomes are unlikely to fund this.
President Mugabe says he earns $12 000 per month, a salary which makes him “the poorest president in the world”, according to Grace.
Mugabe’s wife has been splurging millions of dollars despite the fact that her family’s only known business, a dairy company, has been loss-making since 2013.
Before Mugabe’s two sons Robert Junior and Bellarmine Chatunga relocated to Johannesburg, the first family was paying an annual rental of $500 000 for a property in Dubai where Robert Junior was at the time still based.
Around April, Robert Junior unceremoniously left the rich emirate for South Africa where he was joined by his young brother Bellarmine.
Since their relocation to Johannesburg, the Mugabe siblings have been living large and partying up a storm almost daily, blowing cash like confetti through their champagne lifestyle.
In the process, they have been caught in explosive public fights after drinking and over ladies, jeopardising their personal security in the crime-ridden city.
Last month, Mugabe’s sons — notorious for a wild partying lifestyle — were evicted from a luxurious apartment in Sandton after a violent brawl that left one security officer with a broken leg and arm.
Grace also stirred controversy when she was involved in a $1,3 million diamond ring dispute with a Lebanese dealer. Her lavish lifestyle has earned her the monikers “Gucci Grace” and “First Shopper”.
Government has resolved to build a private university—Robert Mugabe University—in Mazowe outside Harare at a cost of US$1 billion using public funds, suggesting the Mugabe family is using public funds to fund their private interests and undertakings.
In 2011, Grace and her former business partner, Ping Sung Hsieh a Taiwanese-born South African—bought trucks, trailers and equipment worth almost $1 million with money transferred through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to one of Hsieh’s companies, Chantrea Trading, in South Africa.
Grace and Hsieh were later locked in a fight over a $5 million mansion in Hong Kong.
Grace, who recently demanded that President Mugabe name a successor, is expanding her empire.
She grabbed the iconic Mazowe Dam, the lifeline of the country’s citrus industry, 35 kilometres north of Harare, near a farm where she has already built a $7 million private school, orphanage, dairy business and two-storey mansion.
She has been evicting thousands of villagers from a nearby farm since 2011 to establish a game park.
The Mugabe family reportedly has more than 10 farms, making it part of the new land aristocracy ushered in by government’s chaotic fast-track land reform programme which began in 2000.