Tycoon Frank Buyanga arrested by Interpol in Johannesburg

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Millionaire property investor and gold trader Frank Buyanga Sadiqi has been arrested by Interpol in South Africa on an arrest warrant issued by Zimbabwean authorities.

The South African Police Services (SAPS), in a statement on Thursday, said Buyanga, 42, was seized at around 4AM at an upmarket hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, in a joint operation with Interpol which had placed the tycoon on Red Notice.

“Sadiqi is wanted by the Zimbabwean authorities for child trafficking, forgery and violation of the immigration act,” SAPS spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said.

“The charges emanate from an incident which took place in April 2020 in Zimbabwe where the suspect kidnapped his next of kin and fled with him to South Africa.

“A warrant of arrest was immediately issued by Zimbabwean authorities after which a red notice was also issued by Interpol Harare.”

The Hamilton Property boss appeared before the Randburg Magistrates Court on Thursday morning and was remanded in custody to November 17, 2022, for a formal bail application.

Buyanga and ex-girlfriend Chantelle Muteswa have been embroiled in a bitter custody battle for their now eight-year-old son for several years. Each side claims legal custody of the boy who was living with Buyanga since July 2019, before his mother took him from school without notice to Buyanga on March 11, 2020.

The businessman filed a police report accusing Muteswa of abducting the child, but he claimed police did nothing. He snatched the boy from a parked vehicle in a movie-style operation on March 26, 2020, and his lawyers say he left the country with the child a day later.

Zimbabwean police called Interpol after obtaining ab arrest warrant, and the international police organisation subsequently put him on ‘Red Notice’ – which enjoys member countries to arrest a suspect when they land on their territory.

“Interpol has been invoked to assist in locating both the applicant and minor child outside this jurisdiction.”

In a landmark judgement in 2020, the High Court gave Buyanga and Muteswa joint custody and guardianship of the child – but she immediately appealed to the Supreme Court. Justice Jacob Manzunzu, in his order of April 16, 2020, ordered Buyanga to surrender the child to Muteswa until the determination of the Supreme Court appeal.

In November last year, the Johannesburg High Court issued a temporary interdict stopping attempts to remove Daniel to Zimbabwe. The court appointed the Centre for Child Law to manage access to the child by both parents.

Buyanga had approached the High Court on an urgent basis, his lawyers arguing that Daniel is a South African citizen who was unlawfully taken to Zimbabwe in 2016 by Muteswa.

Buyanga, a permanent resident of South Africa, said Muteswa has South African citizenship. Their son was born in Sandton and assumed South African citizenship.

“On or around 2016, Buyanga and Muteswa had a fallout after it became apparent that she was having an affair with a Zimbabwean business mogul based in Harare. As such, Muteswa unlawfully relocated the minor child in a bid to settle with her new lover without the peremptory consent of Buyanga,” his lawyers told the Johannesburg High Court.

The matter is pending.

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