Chopper crash pilot fights prohibition
THE Supreme Court has reserved judgment in a matter involving South African businessman, Mr Frederick Lutzkie, who is challenging the department of immigration’s decision to declare him a prohibited person in the country.
Mr Lutzkie (54), in his appeal through Advocate Firoz Girach who was instructed by Majoko and Majoko Legal Practitioners, cited the principal director of immigration Mr Clemence Masango as the respondent.
The South African businessman was last year declared a prohibited person for contravening sections of the Civil Aviation Act and the Immigration Act.
His crimes included flying without permission from the Civil Aviation of Zimbabwe and fraudulently acquiring an entry and exit stamp at Beitbridge border post.
Mr Lutzkie made headlines two years ago following his involvement in a helicopter crash at Doddieburn Ranch in West Nicholson that raised a lot of eyebrows after he allegedly buried the wreckage of the chopper.
He was subsequently arrested and convicted on his own plea of guilty to 14 counts of contravening sections of the Civil Aviation Act and the Immigration Act by Harare magistrate Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe who sentenced him to seven years in jail.
However, the High Court in May last year quashed the prison term on appeal and ordered him to pay $400 for each of the 14 counts on which he was convicted.
Mr Lutzkie, through his lawyers, filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the decision to bar him from entering the country.
In his heads of argument, Adv Girach contended that his client’s prohibition in the country was premised on a sentence which the High Court set aside.
“It is common cause that the sentence of imprisonment imposed on the appellant by the magistrate’s court was overturned on appeal and substituted with a fine. The declaration of prohibition is consequent to a sentence of imprisonment without the option of a fine and therefore a sentence to pay a fine cannot trigger a declaration for prohibition,” he argued.
“When the sentence of imprisonment was set aside, by operation of law and automatically, the declaration of prohibition fell away.”
Lawyers from the Civil Division in the Attorney-General’s Office, who were representing the principal director of immigration, opposed the appeal. They argued that the issue of prohibition hinged on Mr Lutzkie’s conviction.
“While the sentence of imprisonment was overturned on appeal, appellant was sentenced to a fine on each count and that alone is a conviction in our submissions. The High Court simply minimised the sentence and did not take away the whole sentence and conviction and therefore section 14(1) (e) of the Immigration Act applies. Wherefore we pray for the dismissal of the appellant’s claim,” said the lawyers from the AG’s office. They said there was no merit in the appeal, arguing that Mr Lutzkie was a prohibited person in terms of section 14 of the Immigration Act.
“It is not in dispute that the appellant breached the Immigration Act as well as the Civil Aviation Act, and as to whether he is prosecuted for such breach is not a relevant consideration. The fact remains that he is a prohibited immigrant in terms of the law,” said the AG’s Office.
The businessman, who said he has invested $2.3 million in a joint safari business venture, has previously alleged that a senior Government official was using his position to frustrate him and grab his ranch near West Nicholson. Supreme Court judge Justice Paddington Garwe, sitting with Justice Annie Marie Gowora and acting judge of appeal Justice Francis Bere during a circuit in Bulawayo, reserved judgment after hearing arguments from both parties. — @mashnets
Mr Frederick Lutzkie