Millionaire property tycoon Frank Buyanga has launched an extraordinary attack on the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), claiming police have taken a decision not to investigate cases brought by him.
Buyanga (37), also accuses suspended Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana, who was then Attorney General, of unfairly placing him on the Interpol “Red Notice” — an international arrest warrant usually reserved for dangerous international fugitives — back in 2011.
“We’re currently living in a situation where the police have an opinion on me and their opinion is that they will not investigate my matters,” Buyanga recently told ZBC TV show, My Future which is produced by ZiFM stereo’s Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa.
“I’ve evidence in that I’ve written three letters to the Commissioner General of police, Augustine Chihuri. I’ve gone to visit him at his offices and he has neglected to see me. I’ve left a business card at his reception, but I’ve not had a response.”
He added: “I’ve made various police reports, citing various frauds perpetrated against my enterprises and my establishment, but none of those have been investigated.”
The businessman, whose business interests straddle micro lending, insurance and property, says he has been a victim of industrial scale fraud and has gone to the extent of visiting prosecuting authorities to understand why his cases never go to court.
“I’ve gone to see the National Prosecuting Authority, then and now — then under Tomana. Recently I went to see a gentleman called Chris Mutangadura [Chief Law Officer] who promised me that the matter was going to go to court but up to now, we seem to be in limbo because there is no turning of the wheels of justice in that department,” he said.
Buyanga is fighting on several legal fronts, but his biggest headache are individuals who borrowed money from his Hamilton Finance and put up their houses as surety, before losing them when they neglected to pay.
These defaulters, thought to run into almost 100, have prevented Buyanga’s companies from taking over those properties and renting them out or selling them.
Several of the defaulters have hired Harare lawyer Granger Harvey to stop Buyanga’s companies from exercising their rights flowing from the loan agreements they signed. Instead, they accuse Buyanga of being a “loan shark”.
“I’ve lost out on rentals for the past five or six years because of the direct instigation against my enterprises, with the police unwilling to help me. I don’t know what to think of it really; one minute they’re my friends, one minute they’re after me. It’s quite difficult and daunting at the same time,” he said.
Buyanga recalled how he was thrown in police holding cells in 2008 over a car deal that went sour. He signed an agreement to buy an Isuzu truck for $10 000 but the seller, a Karim, later accused Buyanga of forging his signature.
Buyanga claims some of his detractors bribed detectives with alcohol to get him arrested.
“I was thrown into prison. I had 90 mosquito bites when I came out. I was suffering in the cells in the winter, getting bitten by mosquitos. I was in there longer than the constitution allows, which is 48 hours,” he fumed.
“I could have been in there for three or four days, in and out because they take you in there and they drive you around a couple of places before they drive you back to the police station. Whether that is to log you in and log you out so that the hours escalate, I don’t know.”
The businessman added: “They really dig into you, never mind your constitutional right to dignity and a fair trial. At one point, I was clapped by a detective and he told me to concede. I found that quite inhumane at the time, but there was nothing much I could do about it.”
Buyanga said his treatment at the police cells was borderline torture.
“I do know that they provide blankets because I’ve been in other cells where they provide blankets. But on this occasion they didn’t. Whether this was a singular case to bring maximum pain to me. I don’t know; but this was obviously a unique case,” he said.
“I took a bunch of newspapers and piled them on top of myself and tried to sleep.”
Zimbabwe, Buyanga says, needs a “social contract” where citizens contribute to a guiding policy on the Zimbabwe they want, while re-establishing the legitimacy of State institutions over individuals.
British-born Buyanga claims the ZRP is infested with “corrupt police with nepotism in the structures.” He says this is what drove him into exile in 2011, before he returned in 2013.
While out living in South Africa, Tomana allegedly filed the arrest warrant with Interpol — effectively making him liable to arrest if he visited any territory which is a member of Interpol — the international police organisation.
To circumvent this, Buyanga reveals how he had to turn to South African President Jacob Zuma for help.
“I came back home in 2013 after being away for two years, with an Interpol Red Notice hanging over me. I could not travel; I was on the Red Notice, not on the Purple Notice. Whenever I travelled, I would do so under presidential protocol from South Africa, otherwise I was stuck. I had to go up to Lyon in France and deal with these matters,” he said.
Buyanga says when he returned to Zimbabwe without being arrested, he “looked at the state of the economy” and felt sorry for the people who owed him money.
“I said surely, I can’t go after these people, poor old grannies and families trying to live under the most difficult circumstances,” he recalls.
Buyanga extended an olive branch to the creditors: “Pay my money and I will return your house.” Instead, he says, none paid back but they engaged lawyers to try and criminalise him.
“Now this is what’s happened; they’re trying to come back after me. So I’m gonna deal with it, the daggers are drawn now,” he vowed.
Buyanga said he had reported two lawyers representing his creditors to the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) for forging documents and lying before a judge, but the LSZ had not shown any enthusiasm to pursue the cases.
Contacted for comment, National Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba referred questions to Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi, who said he was not in the office yesterday.-AMH