Grandwell Holdings, which had a stake in Mbada Diamonds said Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe unilaterally cancelled their contract in 2016 having allowed the company to mine in Marange since 2009.
Company chairperson David Kassel said they had invested $50 million in mining equipment and spent $40 million on exploration.
“Then in February 2016, without our knowledge police arrived at the mine, abused people, acted like cowboys, opened our diamond vaults, broke fences and put our people in a room as if we were criminals,” he was quoted by NewsDay as saying before a parliamentary committee probing mining of diamonds in Marange.
“It was an unruly process. They broke our safes and took whatever diamonds there were and our containers.”
Mugabe’s confidante and ex-pilot, Robert Mhlanga, who was the chairperson of Mbada said when they signed the contract they were told that Grandwell was to mine in perpetuity and that Marange Resources was to pay for everything and ensure that the licences were made available.
“But that did not come to pass. Mugabe gave us a guarantee that no one would touch our investment, but Kassel was conned by ZMDC and by the Head of State,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mbada Diamonds’ chief security officer Jabulani Mukoko said some of their vaults had been tampered with and diamonds went missing.
He said the vaults were later welded by the police, but they were empty.
Mukoko also alleged that the consolidation of mining claims in Marange was used as a “Trojan horse” for looting and to bring in individuals with ulterior motives.