Interpol dragged into cross border custody battle
Johannesburg - The cross border custody battle between Sandton businessman Frank Buyanga and Chantelle Muteswa, over their 5-year-old son,has escalated to new heights, with the Zimbabwean government invoking an Interpol red notice against the businessman.
The Zimbabwean government has asked International Police (Interpol) to arrest Buyanga who is embroiled in the custody battle that has implicated members of the Mnangagwa first family.
Buyanga is accused of being a fugitive in his home country.
The businessman has been involved in a long-running battle, which has pitted him against President Emmerson Mnangagwa's son, Collins. Collins has refuted claims he is dating Muteswa, Buyanga's ex-lover and mother to his son.
The two have been battling for custody, with Buyanga seeking joint custody and Muteswa asking the court to be declared the sole guardian.
Muteswa was initially granted sole guardianship of the boy but she lost out after she was evicted from a house she lived with her father.
The businessman was later granted joint custody, which the mother disagreed with, and as a result Buyanga travelled to South Africa with his 5-year-old son. The child remains in Johannesburg with Buyanga.
Two weeks ago, the matter took a new twist with the courts ordering the child to be returned to Zimbabwe within 48 hours. The Sandton mogul however refused to give up the fight for his son and vowed to launch a legal fight against the court ruling.
In court papers filed in Harare on Wednesday, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga opposed Buyanga’s request for a stay of execution of Justice Manzunzu’s April 16 ruling.
Buyanga had cited Matanga as the third respondent in his High Court application. The police chief said Zimbabwe had already approached the Interpol to find the "fugitive" Buyanga and "kidnapped" minor child.
“Interpol has been invoked to assist in locating both the Applicant and minor child outside this jurisdiction. It will be an affront for this Honourable Court to entertain a fugitive from justice like the Applicant.”
Matanga further said: "The order that was granted by Manzunzu J on April 16, 2020, which the Applicant now seeks to stay its execution emanates from a criminal offence committed by the Applicant of contravening (a certain section of the Criminal Law) in that he kidnapped a minor child, Alexander Sadiqi from the lawful custody of (his mother, Chantelle Muteswa) …on Match 26, 2020.”
Responding to the move by the Zimbabwe government, Buyanga's lawyers said they have already approached Interpol. The businessman's legal team said they are asking Interpol to investigate the request by the Zimbabwe government. They accuse the country's justice system of “abusing international mechanisms for the benefit of politicians”.
Buyanga has previously written a complaint to the Judicial Services Commission against Collins, saying he was interfering with the courts in Zimbabwe.
He said multiple police complaints against him and the president's son were never investigated.
The letter from Buyanga's lawyers to Interpol reads: "Our client urges you to vigorously scrutinise the request in question and get as much information as possible before making a decision on the request. It is his considered view that before the request from Zimbabwe Republic police is processed there is a need for Interpol to be adequately informed on all the issues bedevilling the request.
"The Interpol red notice is a political ploy disguised as a tool to try combat crime in Zimbabwe. This is a perfect example of the red notice mechanisms by political hawks who target their perceived political opponent who might be of the firm view that the politics of the country could have been managed in a different and better manner that the current political order."