Crash-copter pilot challenges immigration boss

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SOUTH African businessman, Frederick Lutzkie, who was last year declared a prohibited person in the country, has taken the principal director of immigration Mr Clemence Masango to court challenging his status. Lutzkie (54) made headlines two years ago following his involvement in a helicopter crash at Doddieburn Ranch in West Nicholson that raised a lot of eyebrows after he allegedly buried the wreckage of the chopper.

He was subsequently arrested and convicted on his own plea of guilty to 14 counts of contravening sections of the Civil Aviation Act and the Immigration Act by Harare magistrate Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe who sentenced him to seven years in jail.

However, the High Court in May last year quashed the prison term on appeal and ordered him to pay $400 for each of the 14 counts on which he was convicted. In total, Lutzkie paid $5 600 for all his offences which included flying without permission from the Civil Aviation of Zimbabwe and fraudulently acquiring an entry and exit stamp at Beitbridge border post.

He was in June 2014 served with a notice to persons refused leave to enter Zimbabwe by immigration authorities in terms of the Immigration Act following his conviction. Lutzkie, through his lawyers, Majoko and Majoko legal practitioners, filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the decision.

In his heads of argument, Lutzkie contended that his prohibition in the country was premised on a sentence which the High Court set aside.

“It is common cause that the sentence of imprisonment imposed on the appellant by the magistrate’s court was overturned on appeal and substituted with a fine. The declaration of prohibition is consequent to a sentence of imprisonment without the option of a fine and therefore a sentence to pay fine cannot trigger a declaration for prohibition,” argued Lutzkie’s lawyers.

“When the sentence of imprisonment was set aside, by operation of law, and automatically, the declaration of prohibition fell away.” Mr Tymon Thabane of the Civil Division in the Attorney-General’s Office, who was representing the principal director of immigration, opposed the appeal. He argued that the issue of prohibition hinged on Lutzkie’s conviction.

“While the sentence of imprisonment was overturned on appeal, appellant was sentenced to a fine on each count and that alone is a conviction in our submissions. The High Court simply minimised the sentence and did not take away the whole sentence and conviction and therefore section 14(1) (e) of the Immigration Act applies. Wherefore we pray for the dismissal of the appellant’s claim,” said Mr Thabane.

Lutzkie, who claims to have invested $2,3 million in a joint safari business venture, has previously alleged that a senior Government official was using his position to frustrate him and grab his ranch near West Nicholson.

Supreme Court judge Justice Paddington Garwe, sitting with Justices Ben Hlatshwayo and Annie Marie Gowora during a circuit in Bulawayo, postponed the matter indefinitely to allow both parties to file supplementary heads of argument.

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