HARARE – Troubled Zimbabwe business tycoon, Frank Buyanga has denied attempts to skip jail and has demanded apology and retraction of a South African Police Services (SAPS) statement inferring he colluded with their officer to facilitate his escape.
Buyanga has been languishing in a South African prison since November last year over a slew of accusations, with one relating to a messy child custody wrangle with his former girlfriend.
His arrest in South Africa was at the behest of Zimbabwean authorities who had issued a warrant of arrest against him.
The millionaire businessman was last month mired in a freak prison escape attempt saga after an unnamed police officer was arrested while trying to book him out of prison with no authority.
Nothing was heard of Buyanga’s side of the story in the matter.
South African police proceeded to publish a statement 16 April this year suggesting the businessman could also have planned the escape.
Through his lawyers, Nardus Grove Attorneys, Buyanga has since written SAPS remonstrating over the soiling of his name without even the courtesy of asking him about what he knew about the incident.
Buyanga said the statement was marred with misrepresentations and malice clearly aimed at tarnishing his reputation.
“Mr Buyanga was not afforded any opportunity to be interviewed by the SAPS, who, on their own account, now liken the errant actions of an unnamed police officer with Mr Buyanga after admitting that this officer has no supporting paperwork or just cause to call upon the prison,” he said.
“This is reckless and premature behaviour from SAPS to place this inferred accusation on Mr Buyanga without any proper and lawful investigations prior to publishing this information.”
The lawyers said at the time of the alleged incident, Buyanga was present at the legal consulting rooms of prison with his legal representative identified as Mr Michael Hulley and could be questioned over the incident.
“SAPS decided to play the unlikely role of the media to inform the public in a manner not congruent to the press code and failed to investigate a role which is mandated and bestowed upon them by legislation,” lawyers said, adding that their client has not been approached by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and SAPS officials but has been vilified through the media.
Because of the SAPS statement, lawyers said, their client is now at the mercy of a smear campaign by the media which is basing opinions on one side of the story.
Buyanga was also not happy with that the name of the errant police officer has been protected while his has been dragged through the mire.
“Instead, Mr Buyanga who has not appeared in court in Zimbabwe on alleged charges and who was granted bail in the Randburg Court in his extradition matter, is freely and wrongly cited by name and is overtly described as ‘also wanted for kidnapping in his country of origin’.
“SAPS fails to provide the public with the proper factual story and does not give a balanced account of the alleged cases that they are very well aware of that were opened against Mr Buyanga.
“SAPS fails to state that any charge that relates to fraud and contravention of the Immigration Act is alleged and Mr Buyanga has presumption of innocence until the authorities can sustain these false utterances and alleged charges in a court of law.”
He complained that SAPS is treating him as a foreigner when in actual fact, he holds South African particulars.
Buyanga feels there is conspiracy to jeopardise his freedom prospects.
“The investigations should also cover the incident to exclude this as a booking out attempt as an attempt to extort Mr Buyanga and or create an impediment to his attempts to apply for bail, which is his lawful right,” his lawyers said.
Buyanga also accuses Zimbabwean authorities of working in cahoots with SAPS, South African National Prosecuting Authority to unfairly extradite and deny him bail on trumped up immigration charges.
“The media release paints Mr Buyanga in a negative light and seeks to tarnish his image and prejudice him in matters that are sub judice without affording the proper balanced story to be given with regards to the extradition matter and where he was denied bail by Magistrate Davies who made findings against that of Magistrate Thomas, which findings are being applied to the relevant court.
“Therefore, we are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that your offices retract the article and statements falsely implicating Mr Buyanga on all platforms where this information has been shared including social media.
“We reserve the right to sue for damages,” said the lawyers.