Former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe invaded a mining claim owned by Mr Shepherd Nyazvigo and his partners at Smithfield Farm in Mazowe four years ago and threatened them not to take the issue to the media.

Addressing journalists in Harare following reports by Mrs Mugabe that her property in Mazowe was invaded by illegal panners last week, Mr Nyazvigo said he was the bona-fide owner of the mine.

He produced a mining certificate registration number 3224Grace 4 issued in 2009 showing that he was the owner of the mine together with his partners.

Mr Nyazvigo said Mrs Mugabe forced them out of the mine using her political muscle, alleging that the area was declared a protected area.

He said Mrs Mugabe last week defied a court order barring her from interfering with Mr Nyazvigo’s operations at the mine.

“We are legal miners and we have certificates issued by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development,” he said. “We sell our gold to Fidelity Printers.

“She (Mrs Mugabe) lied that Smithfield Farm was declared a protected zone and that we should vacate the area. We inquired from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and it turned out it was a ploy designed to force us out of our mine.

“We then approached the courts and in January (2018) we were given a provisional court interdict stopping her from interfering with our mining operations, but on 29 March 2018 she came to the mine saying we are illegal miners and we should move out. This issue is before the courts and she is not respecting the court orders.

“We have come here to tell the nation the correct version of what is happening in Mazowe and not the lies that she is spreading.”

Mr Nyazvigo said Mrs Mugabe was free to approach the courts if she had issues with our operations.

“I have a registered company operating legally and what pains me is the lies that she is spreading to the world that we invaded her school and stole some computers,” he said.

“What we are requesting from her is to respect court orders and if she has issues she is free to approach the courts.”

Mr Nyazvigo said so far they had lost business worth close to $100 000 due to Mrs Mugabe’s interference.

He said when they were forced to leave the claim, Mrs Mugabe’s son Russel came to the mine with heavy equipment.

Mr Nyazvigo said Mrs Mugabe had now set a gold processing mill at the mine, which is being run by Confidence Company owned by her daughter Bona. state media