A former United States Congressman has slapped ousted Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and a host of ministers who served in his Cabinet with a US$35 million (about R477 million) lawsuit over claims he was tortured by intelligence operatives while in police custody.
Among those who have been included in the staggering suit, is Special Advisor to President Emmerson Mnangagwa — Christopher Mutsvangwa and an American businessman Elzie Higginbottom — who had been previously accused of bribery and money laundering by Mel Reynolds.
In a letter of demand addressed to Mugabe and his former ministers, Reynolds is claiming $35 million for stress and injuries sustained during torture by the intelligence operatives.
“I have been retained by … Reynolds to represent him in his claim seeking compensation for personal injuries … damages and punitive damages sustained from a conspiracy between millionaire Elzie Higginbottom, Mutsvangwa (who admitted publicly he turned Reynolds in to the CIO in Zimbabwe), and with their associates, representatives and assistants for incident (s) that occurred from 2010 to 2017 and specifically as they relate to activities on behalf of and at the request of … Higginbottom and Mutsvangwa in Illinois and Zimbabwe. As a result of the said acts, my client is seeking $35 million in total damages,” wrote Reynolds’ lawyer Joseph L Planera in his claim.
Other people cited include, former minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi, Martin Munangatire, Monica Mutsvangwa, Henry Munangatire, former deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara and former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) boss Happyton Bonyongwe and other two American citizens.
Reynolds was arrested in Zimbabwe in 2014 for overstaying and had to be deported to his country where he fell into the long arm of the law. Mutsvangwa reported him to the CIO, a deadly and widely feared secret police service in Zimbabwe, causing his arrest.
And when he was bundled out of the country, he had been found in possession of pornographic material — a serious crime in Zimbabwe — and had ran an unpaid hotel bill to the tune of $24 500.
Planera claimed Reynolds was tortured by the CIO operatives after he was turned in by Mutsvangwa whom he accused of setting him up on phony charges.
“As a direct result of the treatment Plaintiff (Reynolds) developed a life-threatening infection that required emergency treatment in South Africa and a three-month recovery.
“Elzie L. Higginbottom an American citizen and Mutsvangwa a Zimbabwean citizen, were the leaders in this conspiracy to keep Reynolds from exposing this bribery and money laundering, which totalled in excess of $2 000 000,” claimed Reynolds’ lawyer.
The exposé burst into the public glare last year during Reynolds’ trial in the United States where he was found guilty of failing to file income tax returns relating to earnings made while consulting for Chicago businessmen in Africa.
Reynolds claimed that Mutsvangwa was behind his troubles, as he allegedly orchestrated his deportation in 2014.
The former congressman lifted the lid on sweetheart deals he alleged to have involved Mutsvangwa, along with a number of other powerful Zimbabwean citizens.