Cape Town - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is embroiled in a Hong Kong court battle to win back a R57 million luxury apartment, it has been reported.
The New Age says that the flat had been sold to a South African national.
The newspaper says that Johan Carel Nel took over ownership of the mansion in the upmarket JC Castle residential area.
Mugabe had bought it in 2008 through middleman Hsieh Ping-Sung for his daughter Bona to use while she pursued her tertiary education in that country.
The newspaper says that court papers show that Mugabe tried through a South African high court to have Hsieh extradited to Zimbabwe in 2011 after the pair had a fall-out. The case was thrown out.
Hsieh, who has business interests in South Africa, reportedly sold the home before Bona finished her Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons) in accountancy at the University of Hong Kong in 2011.
However, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accused Mugabe of using a middleman because the purchase of properties beyond Zimbabwean borders was illegal at the time.
Nehanda Radio, a Zimbabwean radio station based in the UK, reported that Hsieh, acting on behalf of the Mugabes, spent $5.1m (about R57m) in June 2008 for the three-floor home.
Registry filings show that Hsieh and Mugabe used a company called Cross Global to buy the property in 2008.
In 2010 Hsieh allegedly transferred the property from Cross Global to himself without the knowledge of the Zimbabwean leader. According to court records, Hsieh then “sold” the house to Nel.
The newspaper says Durban-based Nel refused to comment on the controversial deal on Thursday.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo refused to divulge any information about the court battle.
“The president (Mugabe) is the only one who can answer that one,” the New Age reports.
MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “New facts emerging show that this house was bought at a time when it was illegal for Zimbabweans to externalise money. That’s why Mugabe used this middleman. This shows the hypocrisy of the president’s office.” - IOL