EXPOSED - Mugabe's British henchman : One of our worst slum Jul 27, 2013 8:17:19 GMT
Post by Focus on Jul 27, 2013 8:17:19 GMT
His Excellency was in mad, sparkling form. After thousands of supporters were bussed into a football stadium for an election rally this week, Robert Gabriel Mugabe used the podium to blame Zimbabwe’s ills on western politicians keen to promote equal rights for homosexuals.
Close : Nicholas Van Hoogstraten has emerged as an intimate friend of ageing despot Robert Mugabe
Flanked by his wife Grace, who has been accused of having an affair with the country’s finance chief because her 89-year-old husband can no longer satisfy her, Mugabe promised to ‘chop the heads off’ gays, and took a swipe at Barack Obama and David Cameron for supporting their rights.
‘This homosexuality thing seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed,’ thundered Mugabe as his wife nodded approvingly alongside him. ‘Imagine this son born out of an African father — Obama — who says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice. We will never do that.’
In a long, rambling speech, the despot added: ‘If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads.’
He went on to accuse other African countries of ‘accepting the practice’ in return for aid donations from Britain and America.
Of course Mugabe, who, despite his infirmity and age, is fighting a general election this Wednesday, has long railed at interference by Westerners.
He notoriously drove the country’s white farmers — often of British descent — off their land in a prolonged campaign of terror, and is now introducing laws banning whites from owning businesses.
Yet, curiously, one British man is flourishing under Mugabe’s murderous regime. While his fellow white farmers have been murdered in their hundreds, and their land given to the despot’s cronies, this slight grey-haired individual has become Zimbabwe’s biggest landowner.
As well as owning a staggering 1,600 square miles of prime land in the heart of the country (Cornwall is only 1,400 square miles), the British exile also owns two sprawling homes replete with tennis courts, swimming pools and garish chrome architecture, with grounds patrolled by Mugabe’s secret police.
So who is this intimate friend of the ageing despot? Step forward Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, the self-confessed ‘amoral businessman’ who made his fortune as a slum landlord in Britain but is better known for being the brains behind the gruesome gangland slaying of a business rival, who was stabbed five times before being shot in the head.
Once described by a judge as a ‘self-imagined devil who thinks he is an emissary of Beelzebub’, Hoogstraten was born in Bognor in 1946 and as an 11-year-old schoolboy started selling stamps to noted collectors.
It later transpired that the young Hoogstraten, who claimed to have a stamp collection worth £30,000, had hired classmates to steal the stamps for him from specialist shops.
By the time he was 14, he had taken to wearing a suit to school and would excuse himself from lessons to sit in an empty classroom, where he would read the Financial Times and attend to business deals.
As a teenager, he started a loan-shark business that saw him take property deeds as collateral for loans. He also ran nightclubs in Brighton and once called Rod Stewart, the rock star, a greedy ‘little runt’ in a row over takings.
He was a bully to his mother Edna and hated his father Charles.
Anger : Robert Mugabe used the podium to blame Zimbabwe's ills on western politicians keen to promote equal rights for homosexuals during a rally this week
He once changed his name by deed poll to Adolf von Hessen, and used countless aliases to evade the authorities while, over the next five decades, he made a multi-million pound fortune.
He also picked up a string of convictions for offences which ranged from organising a henchman to throw a grenade at a priest, to the 2002 conviction for manslaughter for the killing of that business rival. The verdict was overturned on appeal, but he was ordered to pay the victim’s family £6 million in a civil case in 2005.
Two years later, this odious individual slunk out of the country, leaving behind his £40 million Sussex mansion Hamilton Place, together with the vast mausoleum he built there for himself — and ended up in Zimbabwe, where he already had business interests, determined to make himself even richer.
He insists ‘the only purpose in creating great wealth is to separate oneself from the riffraff’, and famously keeps details of his business deals in his head so that there is ‘nothing in writing, no records of anything’.
Unfortunately for Hoogstraten, his friends in Zimbabwe do not follow his example. Mugabe’s intelligence agencies, for instance, which run a myriad of criminal operations, from diamond smuggling to arms dealing, keep detailed written dossiers on all their partners-in-crime.
After reports this week that Mugabe is, predictably, planning to rig the forthcoming elections, Hoogstraten was named as having donated $3 million to Mugabe, who has set up terror camps to hold political opponents and has ordered thousands of unemployed thugs to be deployed to intimidate voters.
Hoogstraten said this week that the donation was not being used to rig election results.
Landlord : Nicholas van Hoogstraten is pictured in Harare in 2008
But secret documents passed to me this week in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, by a senior intelligence source at the heart of Mugabe’s regime appear to show what Hoogstraten wants in return for his largesse — and, if true, they reveal the price is exceptionally high.
In short, the documents suggest he wants access to the world’s biggest diamond find this century.
Mugabe and his military were alerted to reports of locals finding priceless gems near Marange in a remote south-west corner of the country in 2007. The military immediately sealed the area and chased and killed local prospectors off the land.
Now it is a highly-militarized zone, patrolled with soldiers and dogs, to prevent local smugglers taking the stones, which experts say could be worth many billions of pounds.
Headed Top Secret and allegedly prepared for Mugabe’s shadowy military junta, known as the Joint Operations Command, the documents I was passed claim that Hoogstraten has struck an agreement with Mugabe to be given a lucrative diamond concession at the Marange diamond fields.
Experts believe the gems from Marange could account for more than a quarter of all diamonds mined around the globe, and Mugabe and his corrupt cronies are already siphoning millions from the mine every year.
The documents also suggest that two of Hoogstraten’s sons, Maximillion and Alexander, are appointed to a company called Mbada Diamonds, which is run by the president to extract the diamonds and sell them to China.
Under the heading ‘Agreements’, these secret papers say that Hoogstraten has been granted such lucrative concessions because he has ‘shown unwavering financial and moral support to Security 1 (code for Mugabe), and remains loyal and steadfast to ZANU-PF and the security apparatus with timely donations’.
Youthful : Nicholas Van Hoogstraten is pictured in 1968
Such loyalty to Mugabe’s regime means Hoogstraten’s family would join the list of unsavoury characters already mining these gems and taking them out of the country via an elaborate network of aircraft, vehicles and men, all controlled by the Zimbabwean regime.
The mines are currently operated by Sino-Zimbabwe, a joint venture between Mugabe’s government and the Chinese government, and Anjin Investments, another company with ties to Beijing which is building a new multi-million-pound military training and spy centre for Mugabe in return for access to the gems.
‘These diamonds have been captured by political elites and are used to fund violence and keep these people in power,’ says Farai Maguwu, an independent investigator into abuses at the diamond fields. ‘That means these diamonds are blood diamonds.’
Not that this would trouble Hoogstraten. Since moving to Zimbabwe, he has been making himself indispensable to Robert Mugabe’s regime.
So, while life expectancy for ordinary people in the country has plummeted to 50 years for both men and women, Hoogstraten’s fortune has soared.
On his huge ranch, called Central Estates, Hoogstraten has vast cattle herds and thousands of acres of crops.
He also has game animals, and regularly invites guests from Mugabe’s inner circle, as well as overseas business guests, to trophy-hunt these elephants, big cats and buffalo. His private life in Zimbabwe is equally colourful. Before he left Britain, he had five children by three women — and he now describes himself as a ‘confirmed bachelor with three or four mistresses’.
Such are his financial links to the Mugabe regime, he is now regarded as a ‘favoured son’ of the despot and the generals who rule Zimbabwe with an iron grip. Many here are terrified that Mugabe, using financial help from businessmen, will this week unleash a campaign of terror and violence, forcing people to vote for him just as he did in the last elections in 2008.
Mugabe is already using cash from supporters of his ZANU-PF party to deploy thousands of youths — recruited from slums and trained at military barracks — to wreak havoc.
Van Hoogstraten is a self-confessed 'amoral businessman'
He is also using his 300,000-strong army of intelligence agents to ensure opposition strongholds are targeted, with instructions to carry out acts of sabotage and fire-bombings at voting stations if it appears that Morgan Tsvangirai, his opponent, is taking a poll lead.
According to the documents about his nefarious business activities, cash supplied by Hoogstraten has been used to buy vehicles for Mugabe’s secret police to target opponents.
The documents also indicate that after Hoogstraten handed over $500,000 for Mugabe’s coffers at a private ceremony in April this year, he demanded — and was given — guarantees concerning a whole raft of business concerns should Mugabe ‘win’ this week’s elections.
As well as the diamond concessions, the documents claim that Hoogstraten has asked the regime for paratroopers to patrol his businesses, and for secret service agents to continue to provide a 24-hour guard at his opulent Harare properties in case his enemies should try to kill him.
The documents state that Hoogstraten, 68, has also been granted assurances that his other business interests in Africa — which include dealings with President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, and mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo — will be protected as far as possible with the help of Mugabe’s military and diplomatic might.
Amid predictions that Mugabe could be ousted by his own ZANU party if he loses the poll, Hoogstraten has ensured that he has built up close links with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the country’s defence minister, known as The Crocodile on account of his violence and savagery towards opponents.
Desperate to take over from Mugabe, who suffers from prostate cancer and frequently falls asleep at politburo meetings, Mnangagwa is a ruthless killer who frequently visits Hoogstraten.
Incredibly, the documents claim that Hoogstraten has also promised to pay for public relations companies, as well as providing $2.5million in cash for security and an aircraft to be used by Mugabe in the event that he has to leave the country ‘due to an inconclusive electoral outcome on July 31’.
That, however, is unlikely to happen. Mugabe and Nicholas Marcel Van Hoogstraten have too much to lose from their macabre relationship.
Which is terrible news for the poor, suffering people of Zimbabwe.