A ZIMBABWEAN man wanted for the murder of a South African diplomat has been freed on bail by a Botswana court after authorities in Harare failed to make an extradition request for over a year.
Kevin Blaze, aka Taurai Gasva, was arrested by Botswana police in March last year and charged with credit card fraud.
He was freed on bail in August 2008 and immediately re-arrested after detectives from Zimbabwe’s Criminal Investigations Department, through Interpol, wrote to their counterparts in Botswana saying Gasva was someone of interest over a string of crimes – including domestic violence and baby dumping.
More seriously, South African police are also keen to quiz him over the 2006 slaying of Kingsley Sithole, a former Counsellor at the South African Embassy in Harare, who was shot dead outside his home in Midrand, Johannesburg.
In a report of the criminal charges Gasva faces, submitted by Interpol Harare, detectives said the 28-year-old had an affair with Sithole’s daughter, Chantal. The couple had two children.
Police say Sithole never approved of the affair, and Gasva blew his fuse when Chantal indicated she wanted to relocate to South Africa.
Police say her decision to call time on the affair triggered a series of events which culminated in Sithole’s murder outside his newly-purchased home on June 12, 2006.
On several occasions, detectives say Gasva hid Chantal’s travel documents, or would take away the children, to prevent her from leaving.
“On January 19, 2008, Chantal managed to escape from the apartment leaving the kids behind and proceeded to the embassy of South Africa where she presented her problems. The embassy assisted Chantal to travel to South Africa at her request,” according to the correspondence from the Harare CID.
When Gasva discovered that his girlfriend had fled, police say he made a series of phone calls to the South African embassy and sent computer-generated text messages which disguised his location to appear as though the sender was in the United Kingdom.
He threatened embassy staff, and Chantal’s mother in South Africa, with death if they refused to disclose her whereabouts.
He subsequently drove to the embassy and dumped his one-year-old child at the gate.
After holding Gasva for Zimbabwe police since August last year, prosecutors in Botswana last week did not oppose his bail application which succeeded.
Botswana Police Service spokesman Christopher Mbulawa said: “Communications between us and our Zimbabwean counterparts in this matter have been cordial and they have been updated on progress of the matter whenever there was need to do so.
“The accused person has been in custody since August 2008, which is more than a year.
“The reasons why he was let free or granted bail is that we did not receive any official request for his extradition from the Zimbabwean authorities. Currently, he has some cases pending before court in Francistown.”
Mbulawa also revealed they were awaiting an official request for extradition by South African police who have jurisdiction over the murder charge.
“As at now, the fugitive is on bail granted to him by our competent court. We are waiting for official extradition documents from Zimbabwe and South Africa. We are told the matter is still being pursued by the Attorney General in Zimbabwe.”