HARARE – Zimbabwe millionaire businessman Frank Buyanga has reportedly fallen sick in a South African prison where he has been detained since November last year with claims he was being denied access to private doctors.
The property mogul was arrested through Interpol at the behest of Zimbabwean authorities who sought him on alleged kidnapping charges on his juvenile son.
The minor’s custody has been at the centre of a fierce legal battle between Buyanga and former girlfriend, Chantel Muteswa, who is also the mother of the child.
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When Buyanga left the country, he had been given the child’s custody by the courts in a landmark ruling which gave equal access to couples with children born out of wedlock.
Following his arrest in South Africa, Buyanga was initially denied bail but later won on appeal.
But before he could be released, he was hit with fresh charges which included immigration fraud, defeating the ends of justice, violating the administration of justice and contravening the Immigration Act.
He was further charged with three more offences upon refusal of a plea and has been locked up at Sun City Prison since then.
In a weekend statement, Buyanga’s Hamilton Foundation charged the businessman’s continued detention was vindictive.
The foundation accused Zimbabwean authorities of targeting Buyanga over political reasons with South African authorities also fingered for alleged attempts to fix him for daring to file a ZAR600 million claim against the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
“It is surprising that a domestic dispute between his estranged ex-girlfriend and our patron has led to South Africa and Zimbabwe governments uniting to bring down a businessman over an issue that could easily be coordinated in the interest of everyone including the minor child.
“Judge Denise Fisher of the South Gauteng High Court issued an order allowing Frank Sadiqi to be the primary care giver in Nov 2021.
“It seems this order or case management procedure has been undermined by the justice delivery system.
“The child is South African, born out of a naturalised South African Mother and a father who is a British national and permanent resident of South Africa.
“Seemingly, no one is interested in investigating how Zimbabwe is fighting to return a child who is inherently South African,” reads the statement.
Hamilton Foundation said Buyanga is now sick and his situation is worsened by that he is being denied access to his personal doctor.
“As things stand, our patron is languishing in prison for the love he has for his son,” said the foundation.
“It has to be noted from the outset that the issue our patron is suffering for is the political differences with the existing Zimbabwean government, which they have looped in their South African Counterparts, who are at loggerheads with him over a R600m claim against the SARS.
“All these issues have led to Mr Sadiqi being termed an undesirable person in South Africa, being tried for violating the laws which he abided to ever since he came to Africa.
“It is our view that his prosecution is concocted and malicious at the least. He has neither been granted bail nor started trial.
“Whenever he wants to advance his case, charges are added. Home affairs declared him a prohibited person whilst in incarceration on 28 Nov 2022, gave him 10 days to appeal but never gave him the opportunity to appeal.”
Hamilton Foundation said the magistrate in the matter issued an instruction for him to attend the Department of Home Affairs to be in line with the 10-day appeal but the SAPS and correctional facilities denied him access to the department.
They said if Buyanga is extradited to Zimbabwe, he will never have a fair trial.
“This ultimately will seal his fate despite being a credible businessman both in Zimbabwe and South Africa having a significant asset base.
“At Sun City where he is incarcerated, he has been denied independent medical access, his health is deteriorating, and his last appearance on the 10th of March 2023, he appeared a pale shadow of himself, couldn’t walk properly and was aided with a steel crutch despite notes indicating since the 7th of February 2023 that Mr Frank Buyanga Sadiqi is unwell and needs immediate medical attention.
“The prosecutor undertook to have him seen by a regional state doctor and have access to his personal doctor, but the arrangements were not made.
“The ill treatment and violation of his rights since the 10th of November 2022 to present day is indescribable.
“No superlatives can express better the pain and suffering our patron has endured over concocted charges meant to destroy him as a person.
“The state machinery is at work and continues to frustrate his bail applications by piling up charges which do not make sense.
“The motive is thus clear: destroy Frank Buyanga Sadiqi by all means in order to satisfy the political demagogues who are behind his arrest,” said the foundation.
The foundation also said Buyanga had obtained a High Court order from a Gauteng court to have primary residence of his son, but all this was ignored.
It also expressed concern over the decision by police to handcuff Buyanga in front of his son saying this was going to traumatise the minor in his entire life.