BY MOSES MATENGA
Prominent businessman Frank Buyanga has suffered a huge blow after the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal against a High Court ruling ordering him to return his six-year-old son to his estranged girlfriend.
Supreme Court judges Justices Elizabeth Gwaunza, Hlekani Mwayera and Thomas Masuku dismissed Buyanga’s case, accusing him of approaching the courts with dirty hands.
Lawyer Choice Damiso, who was instructed to represent Buyanga’s former girlfriend Chantelle Muteswa by Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), said the court, as the upper guardian of all minor children, expressed concern that Buyanga had separated the boy from his mother for the past 18 months.
WLSA is an organisation that works to ensure that the law works for women.
“The court dismissed the appeal and said it would not hear the matter at all because Buyanga, by illegally removing the child from Zimbabwe, had approached the court with dirty hands,” Damiso said.
“That is to say that a person who is in continuing wilful violation of a court order cannot have the audacity to approach the court for a favourable judgement.
“He must first of all purge his violation and approach the court with clean hands.
“This is a universal legal principle applied in courts all over the world. It is actually based on common sense and rules of fair play.”
Muteswa, as the mother of the minor child, was sometime back granted sole custody of the child, with Buyanga having rights of access.
After some litigation between the parties, High Court judge Justice Jacob Manzunzu in June 2019 ruled in an urgent chamber application that Buyanga should not remove the child from Zimbabwe until the matter had been determined.
This was after Muteswa had approached the High Court challenging a ruling by the lower court that had granted Buyanga the right to take the child out of the country.
In violation of this court order, on March 26, 2020, Buyanga took the child to South Africa without the consent of either Muteswa or the court.
This forced Muteswa to approach the court again.
Manzunzu gave another order compelling the businessman to return the child within 24 hours or face contempt of court charges.
It was later discovered that Buyanga had used a “fake” order to gain access to the child’s passport that had been left in the custody of the registrar of courts.
Immigration records also showed that the child had been taken in and out of the country about six times.
After failing to return the child to the mother, Buyanga was put on the Interpol wanted list for violating a court order.
He appealed against Manzunzu’s ruling, but his case was dismissed by the Supreme Court last week.
“Citizens should know that the justice system is not a playground for bullies and judgments of courts are there to be obeyed and not played with,” Daniso said.