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SA tycoon set free


SOUTH African businessman Frederick Wilhelm August Lutzkie, who crashed a helicopter in Gwanda and concealed the wreckage, yesterday successfully applied for bail pending appeal against sentence after he was jailed for an effective 42 months.



Harare magistrate Douglas Vakayi Chikwekwe granted Lutzkie $2 000 bail.

He also ordered him to deposit $25 000 surety with the clerk of court, surrender his passport and to report to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at Braeside, Bulawayo, twice a week. Should Lutzkie desire to travel outside the country, Chikwekwe ruled that he should seek written authority from the CID.

Through his lawyer Itayi Ndudzo, Lutzkie had argued that he was a good candidate for bail because he had shown contrition by pleading guilty to the charge during his initial court appearance.

Lutzkie also argued that it was not a criminal offence for a person to come into Zimbabwe with large sums of money, although it was a criminal offence to externalise a stipulated amount of money out of the country. Lutzkie brought R23 million into the country.

State prosecutor Michael Reza had, however, opposed the application on the basis that Lutzkie was not ignorant of the law as claimed by the defence. He said the court was “not dealing with a tribesman, but an international businessman, engineer and pilot”.

“Such a person should not be heard talking about ignorance of the law,” he said after the defence had told the court Lutzkie was not conversant with the country’s laws.

He added that Lutzkie had an ulterior motive when he buried the airplane’s wreckage and dismissed his assertions that he had done so as a safety measure.

“We have EMA (Environmental Management Agency) and CAAZ (Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe), institutions that are properly qualified to attend to public safety issues,” he said.

Lutzkie was jailed last Friday after he was convicted of breaching various regulations of the country’s air space; contravening the Aviation and Immigration laws; concealing evidence of an accident and using a fraudulent immigration stamp, among other crimes.

The court heard during trial that Lutzkie had injected about $2,3 million in the past 14 months into the Gwanda rural council at the Doddieburn Ranch. He was nabbed by police detectives early last week after disembarking at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo.

The court heard that Lutzkie came into the country without any clearance from the CAAZ evading immigration authorities.

He flew his Hughes MD500 helicopter registration ZS-RXZ from a lodge in Doddieburn Ranch West Nicholson, Gwanda, without clearance from CAAZ.

While travelling to South Africa last month his helicopter developed a mechanical fault and subsequently crashed 4km from the lodge. The helicopter sustained damages due to the mishap, but Lutzkie escaped with minor injuries.

Lutzkie is said to have dug a 3,5-meters deep pit using a TLB excavator at the scene of the crash before burying the wreckage to avoid detection.

The matter came to light after a police tip-off from an anonymous source to the police. Further police investigations revealed the helicopter wreckage was buried in a pit on May 20.

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