Investigations and Special Reports Editor
Frank Buyanga, who snatched his five-year-old son from his ex-girlfriend movie style last month, is now regarded as a fugitive from justice after fleeing the country with the boy, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga has said.
Buyanga reportedly kidnapped the boy, who was in the custody of his mother Ms Chantelle Muteswa, at Waterfalls Shopping Centre on March 26, but the High Court ordered him to return the child to his mother within 24 hours.
He did not obey the order.
Having failed to comply with the court order, Buyanga subsequently instructed his employee to file an application on his behalf for a stay of execution of the High Court order compelling him to surrender the child.
In the application, it is admitted Buyanga was outside the country and that he could not comply with the court order because of Covid-19 travel bans and lockdown provisions.
Responding to the application in his own affidavit, Comm-Gen Matanga said police were investigating the kidnapping case and Buyanga was on the wanted list.
Interpol has been roped in to assist in apprehending Buyanga, whom Comm-Gen Matanga described as a fugitive from justice.
“My police officers are investigating this criminal case and efforts to locate either the applicant or the minor child within Zimbabwe have yielded no results,” he said.
“The investigations are still continuing and are at an advanced stage and Interpol has been invoked to assist in locating both the applicant and the minor child outside this jurisdiction.
“It will be an affront to the justice delivery system for this honourable court to entertain a fugitive from justice like the applicant.”
Comm-Gen Matanga stated in the affidavit that Buyanga was approaching the court with dirty hands since the order emanated from a criminal offence, that of kidnapping.
Buyanga was simply abusing the court process, he said.
“This court cannot be used as a shield by the applicant who has failed to comply with the court order that ordered him to return the minor child within 24 hours,” he said.
“Applicant cannot choose as to which court order he wants to obey and which one he wants to disobey. He is already in contempt of court and he must not be entertained.”
In an affidavit, Buyanga’s employee, Lloyd Hama, said Covid-19 travel restrictions were hindering Buyanga’s efforts to comply with the High Court order.
“It has been placed on record that the applicant is not in the jurisdiction,” he said. “In order to have complied with the interim order, the applicant was mandated to return the minor child within 24 hours at the risk of being held in contempt of court and imprisoned.
“This would necessarily require the applicant to enter the jurisdiction of the court to surrender the minor. This order is impossible to discharge in that countries, world over, including Zimbabwe, are under lockdown, as a direct consequence of which human movement is curtailed, more so cross- border movement.”
The court heard that if the movement was allowed, it was likely to put the health of the child at risk.
Buyanga wants a stay of execution of the order pending determination of an appeal by the Supreme Court.
Harare lawyer Mr Munyaradzi Bwanya of Mutuso and Taruvinga Legal Practitioners is representing Ms Muteswa, while the Attorney-General’s Office is acting for the police and the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
During the lockdown, the High Court judgment granting the order to return the child said Buyanga can only communicate with the child for an hour through the phone.
The court also ordered the Registrar-General’s Office to surrender the child’s passport to the Registrar of the High Court within 24 hours.
Footage captured by a supermarket CCTV camera on the day the child was taken away shows a white Ford Ranger parking behind Ms Muteswa’s Honda Fit.
Two men brandishing firearms pounced and forcibly took away the boy, who was with his grandmother.
The men jumped into the Ford Ranger and sped off.
Ms Muteswa and her mother fought the men as they drove off, but to avail.