By Mary Taruvinga
SOUTH Africa based businessman Frank Buyanga locked in a bitter child custody battle with former girlfriend Chantell Muteswa has failed to return his child as required by the High Court with police claiming they cannot act “because he is untouchable.”
Muteswa claims she has approached police for help to get her four year-old son back but has been advised by authorities that Buyanga has “high political connections.”
Buyanga’s baby mama filed an urgent application at the High Court seeking an order to force the businessman to return the child. On Wednesday, Justice Happious Zhou sitting in chambers reserved ruling to Friday.
As the back and forth battle continues unabated, Buyanga now represented by Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners advised by Advocate Lewsi Uriri has again demanded his son’s passport but Muteswa represented by Munyaradzi Bwanya who was being advised by Advocate Fadzayi Mahere has also filed a supplementary affidavit asking Justice Zhou to “give direction on the matter.”
Buyanga did not attend the hearing amid claims he is hiding from some litigants who want him jailed on civil charges.
“The baffling thing is that Buyanga seems to be getting preferential treatment to that accorded other people before the courts. All his cases are proceeding without him having to attend, although the rules of the High Court in particular are that he must attend.
“His political connections are at work again and the suggestion from the courts is that he is special which is wrong. No one else could get away with that,” an insider said.
Muteswa had given Buyanga access to the child despite having successfully obtained an order barring her son’s father from taking the child outside the country.
She claims Buyanga using his connections “sneaked” into the Harare Magistrate’s Courts where “an unknown” magistrate granted him permission to take the child.
“The respondent (Buyanga) is the non-custodian parent who has court ordered rights of access. Currently respondent has had the child from July 1 2019 and his access time concludes on 21 July at 4 pm,” said Muteswa in her application.
Muteswa also revealed that Buyanga has since been dumped by his lawyers, Rubaya and Chatambudza for failing to pay legal fees.
“Respondent has indicated in clear and uncertain terms that he is returning the child in terms of the extant orders of court. Respondent erstwhile legal practitioners Rubaya and Chatambudza have not filed any notice renunciation of agency in terms of the rules. In part because respondent owes applicant costs for a frivolous urgent chamber application, he filed with this court and withdraw on the date of set-down,” she argued.
The applicant also complained that Buyanga’s new lawyers Manase and Manase have not officially taken over as allowed by the law.
Muteswa said instead, Buyanga instructed his new lawyers to inspect her place of residence for fitness as a prerequisite for the child’s return.
She also accused Buyanga of approaching the magistrate court to extend his access time indefinitely.
“An unnamed magistrate granted the order in violation of the Guardianship of Minors Act. The case number for the Ex Parte (outside interests) application is yet unknown to the applicant who has not been served.
“The interim order granted is incompetent in that it in effect reverses the roles of custodial as opposed to non-custodial parent. The law anticipates that in both variation of access and in custody matters, both parties must be heard before a decision is made,” Justice Zhou heard adding she was never served but eventually received a WhatsApp message from Buyanga’s personal assistant.
Muteswa said low ranking police officers at Borrowdale Police Station feared to enforce that order against Buyanga who is politically connected.
“It is clear that the applicant has the difficulty of securing assistance from ZRP because the respondent is well connected to senior level politicians. This court does not habour the same fears and is empowered to order all members of ZRP to enforce its orders at any time soon,” she said.