HARARE – The High Court on Thursday ordered millionaire businessman Frank Buyanga to return his five-year-old son to the boy’s mother within 24 hours, or face contempt charges.
Justice Jacob Manzunzu, who was the subject of a corruption complaint by Buyanga two weeks ago, granted an interim order sought by Chantelle Muteswa, who is locked in a long-running and bitter custody battle with her ex-boyfriend.
An interim order granted in Muteswa’s favour decreed that Buyanga must return the child within 24 hours, either to Muteswa’s residence or to Waterfalls Police Station.
He should also surrender the boy’s passport “failure of which this order shall sever as a warrant of arrest.”
The order also says for the duration of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, Buyanga would only be able to exercise telephonic access to the child between 6.30PM and 7.30PM.
A final order sought by Muteswa says Buyanga should be “interdicted from taking physical control of the minor child” until after the Supreme Court hears an appeal she filed against a judgement of the High Court granting Buyanga joint custody and guardianship of the child.
Buyanga had temporary access of his son since July last year until March 11 this year when he alleged Muteswa abducted him from his school in Harare. Buyanga, who accused police of doing nothing to get his son back, regained custody after the boy was snatched from a parked vehicle in a movie-style operation on a busy Harare street on March 26.
Buyanga’s lawyers had sought to torpedo the High Court proceedings by writing to the court to say that the African Medallion Group millionaire had left the country, and the jurisdiction of the court.
The property tycoon also wrote to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission making pointed allegations against Justice Manzunzu.
Buyanga claimed Manzunzu had previously shown bias against him, adding that the judge had been compromised by improper contacts with members of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s family, notably his son, Collins, who is allegedly in a romantic relationship with Muteswa.
“Sometime in 2019, a negative judgement was passed against me and I accepted such judgement as I did not want to make an issue. However, my intelligence infrastructure in Zimbabwe noted that a certain person from the Mnangagwa family called the Honourable Justice’s phone no less than 15 times before the delivery of the judgement,” Buyanga wrote to the JSC.
Buyanga identified Dylish Nguwaya, Collins Mnangagwa’s business partner, as the individual who “has been communicating with Justice Manzunzu.” He further claimed one Mallan Zorodzai Chiswa had also been making improper contact with the judge.
“I genuinely believe there is interference in the execution of judicial power from external forces,” Buyanga wrote to ZACC. “What is being done is illegal and almost treasonous… The dispute between Chantelle Muteswa and myself is personal and a family matter which doesn’t require any third party, especially the President’s Office.”
He said ZACC was “duty-bound to pluck off” corrupt judicial officers, an apparent reference to Manzunzu.
He claimed to have “several witnesses” who would testify when called upon to do so, but only “at such a time it is safe for them to give such information.”
JSC secretary Walter Chikwana said their offices were closed in observance of the 21-day lockdown, and they would address Buyanga’s complaint when they had read the contents of his letter.
A lawyer for Buyanga said they would file an appeal against Justice Manzunzu’s judgement on Friday. – ZimLive