Court opera: Buyanga, baby mama legal fight rages with no end in sight

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By Mary Taruvinga

FIVE days, three cases all surrounding the bitter tussle for the custody of his minor child have not slowed down South African based business mogul Frank Buyanga.

Buyanga, a flamboyant businessman with links to Zimbabwe’s establishment and in particular Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, has been in the courts literally everyday this week and in the end, won two of the cases, getting his ex-girlfriend Chantell Muteswa locked up for contempt and forcing her to surrender their child’s passport.

Muteswa and Buyanga have shuttled between the Harare Magistrates Courts, the High Court as well as the Civil Courts heckling over different issues with the businessman in attack while the desperate woman struggled to protect herself.

This week alone, three cases involving the couple were heard.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Trevor Nyatsanza is under investigation after Buyanga filed a complaint against him claiming he is conflicted after he ruled in Muteswa’s favour regarding the custody of the child.

Nyatsanza was also “going to rule” in Muteswa’s favour in another case involving the two.

Muteswa filed an application for review in the High Court. A court order granting Buyanga access to their son’s passport was issued. The impasse over the child raged on each time one of them has had a favourable ruling.

Just last month, Buyanga petitioned the Civil Courts seeking an order to compel Muteswa to release their son’s passport and the matter was handled by two different magistrates until it was taken to the High Court where Judge President George Chiweshe intervened and ordered the matter to be brought to finality before a selected Magistrate, Marehwanazvo Gofa.

Gofa ruled in Buyanga’s favour. According to the court papers, Buyanga is now supposed to have the child in his custody for three weeks starting from July 1, 2019 but Muteswa has once again approached the High Court seeking an order to bar him from taking her child outside the jurisdiction of Zimbabwean courts.

“I am advised that Zimbabwean court orders are not automatically enforceable in the South African jurisdiction and as such, should the respondent (Buyanga) refuse/neglect to return the child to me, the order for sole custodianship is not immediately enforceable in that jurisdiction,” she said.

Muteswa, through her lawyer Munyaradzi Bwanya, said she is thus urging the court to suspend the order that gives Buyanga access to the child’s passport and his removal from Zimbabwe pending determination of his other application in which he is seeking joint custody of the minor.

“In any case, should this honourable court find in respondent’s favour in his application for joint custody, he would be entitled to the passport and removal of the child from Zimbabwe. It is also in his interest to have the related matters determined,” she said.

In a twist of events, Buyanga early this week approached the court seeking an order compelling the Registrar of Births and Deaths to include his name on their son’s birth certificate.

Buyanga petitioned the court to uphold his request saying his ex-girlfriend made misrepresentations to the Registrar General’s Office.

He accused Muteswa of lying that she was not aware who the father of her child was despite the fact that the two had already acquired the child’s birth certificate in Buyanga’s name while in South Africa.

“There is no doubt that I am the father of the minor and Muteswa accepts this…I’m advised, which advice I embrace that the conduct of Muteswa ought to be consistent with the Constitution because of its supremacy,” said Buyanaga in his court application.

Meanwhile, Muteswa was Friday convicted of contempt of court following her refusal to release the child’s passport in terms of the order of the court. Buyanga’s girlfriend had argued she had failed to deliver the travel document because her lawyer had traveled out of town on the eve of the Easter Holidays when the order was issued. She was fined $20. Magistrate Nyatsanza who Buyanga claims was seen with Muteswa outside the courts has asked the High Court to rule on the same cases he has adjudicated including the sole custody order he handed down in favour of Muteswa.

Buyanga claims Muteswa and Magistrate Nyatsanza were “seen outside the court precincts” making the law administrator a conflicted person. Both Muteswa and Nyatsanza have vehemently denied the claims accusing Buyangwa of dangling a red-herring to cloud the courts judgment on all matters relating to his custody battle with his ex-girlfriend.