‘ Criminal charges embarrassing ’

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SOUTH AFRICAN national Laurens Marthinus Botha, who allegedly works for the pilot of a helicopter that crashed at Doddieburn Farm, Frikkie Lutzkie, said he felt embarrassed by the helicopter accident.

ALBERT NCUBE
OWN CORRESPONDENT

“I am embarrassed by this. In my 66 years, l have never faced criminal charges,” Botha briefly said when asked how he felt.

Botha together with his colleague Pieter Schalk Marais had spent seven days in detention before being granted bail yesterday by provincial magistrate-in-charge Reuben Mukavhi. The trial date has been set for June 10.

Mukavhi had deferred ruling to yesterday to research whether a detention warrant issued by an immigration official had a bearing on the competence of a court in determining bail.

Mukavhi said the detention warrant was suspended until the finalisation of court proceedings. The two South African citizens are facing a charge of contravening the Immigration Act by failing to comply with the conditions under which their permits were granted.

Botha and Marais are denying the charges.

Although prosecutor Blessing Gundani had sought to have the pair pay $1 000 bail each, Mukavhi ruled that they should not pay bail.

However, the two will enter into a bond by surrendering their Land Cruisers and a dump truck belonging to Botha as part of their bail conditions.

Both were ordered to surrender their South African passports, report once every Friday at Hillside Police Station in Bulawayo and reside at number 9 Fleming Road until the case is finalised.

The State alleges that Innocent Tawanda Hamandishe from the Immigration Department indicated that he was summoned by the police on May 22 following a helicopter crash and its subsequent burial at Doddieburn Farm.

He then interviewed the two South Africans and it emerged Botha and Marais were working at the farm contrary to endorsements in their passports that they were in the country as business and holiday visitors in contravention of the Immigration Act.