Zimbabwe: Businessman Buyanga Remanded in Custody

Zimbabwean businessman Frank Buyanga Sadiqi, who was arrested last Thursday in South Africa on allegations of kidnapping his son in Harare in 2020 and on charges of contempt of court, was this week remanded in custody to Tuesday next week for his bail hearing.

Buyanga (43) appeared before the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

According to the South African authorities, Buyanga was arrested last Thursday morning at the upmarket Michelangelo Towers in Sandton by Interpol through the assistance of the South African Police Service’s National Intervention Unit .

The authorities said the charges emanated from when, in April 2020 in Zimbabwe, Buyanga is alleged to have kidnapped his son and fled with him to South Africa.

However, on Monday, Buyanga had his warrant of arrest cancelled at the Harare Magistrates court after magistrate Mrs Judith Taruvinga said that she had issued the warrant of arrest erroneously.

On Thursday, the South African lawyer representing Buyanga, Mr Laurence Hodes SC, called for a speedy bail hearing for his client. According to News 24, Mr Hodes told the Randburg Magistrate’s Court that Buyanga was entitled to bail.

Mr Hodes added that the warrant Interpol executed to arrest Buyanga on 10 November had been cancelled in Zimbabwe.

“The South African state is aware of that. We are only awaiting confirmation from the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. The matter has attracted local and international news organisations.

“His continued incarceration is unlawful. We have an authentic court order from Zimbabwe, showing the cancellation of his warrant of arrest,” Mr Hodes told the court.

Allegations are that Buyanga was wanted in Zimbabwe on charges of kidnapping and robbery as well as three counts of contempt of court, News24 earlier reported.

On Thursday, Mr Hodes said he handed over documents, including his client’s passport, to the South African National Prosecuting Authority and Buyanga owned property in South Africa.

“We have attached his proof of visa permits to our affidavit. These would assist in showing he is not a flight risk and is entitled to bail. The accused is applying to have custody of his child in South Africa.

“There is [a court] order in Zimbabwe that his child is in his custody. The High Court in Johannesburg is determining which parent would be given custody of his 8-year-old son.

“There is no basis to detain him. He was arrested at the address we had submitted. I am ready to proceed with the bail application. Should the State decide to proceed with the bail [application], we are ready. If there is no warrant, he should be released,” he said.

“The chief magistrate in Zimbabwe sent an email to Director of Public Prosecutions in SA that the warrant has been cancelled. The only document that gives this court jurisdiction to hear the matter is a warrant of arrest.

“Absent to that, there is no basis for his detention. The extradition of a person is done based on the commitment between two states working together. We are dealing here with a person’s liberty.”

Prosecutor Advocate Rutondo Phungo argued that the State had to authenticate the documents they had received from the defence before the bail application could begin.

“His passport needs to be verified by Home Affairs. Other documents, including the warrant of arrest, must be verified by relevant local departments. We are not ready to proceed. We know bail is a matter of urgency.

“Those documents were provided today, not on 12 November as was expected. We acknowledged the receipt of the warrant. The court should bear in mind that these matters involve the Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

“The department will assist in authenticating all documents we have received. The only channel of communication between South Africa and Zimbabwe is through the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. Without them giving us instructions, we cannot authenticate their court orders.”

Advocate Phungo said it was strange that a Zimbabwean court communicated with the defence instead of the National Prosecuting Authority.

“They should have sent the documents to our offices requesting us not to proceed with our prosecution. We need to get the authentication and validity of the court order.

“We believe that Zimbabwe should have made means to inform us about the cancellation of the court order. When we receive such, we will decide. We are still proceeding with the extradition process, as our government had requested.

“There are reasons why such matters should go via the Department of International Relations and Co-operation and our Justice Department. We have requested the department to communicate with Zimbabwe to expedite the matter. Interpol also assists in obtaining authentic documents. They are communicating with Zimbabwe.”

The matter was postponed to November 22 for verification of the Zimbabwean court order and other documents.

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