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Court orders State to return British national’s passport

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THE STATE has been ordered to return the passport of a British national based in Bulawayo who is accused of violating conditions of issue of residence permit for allegedly engaging in another contract with Petra High School contrary to the dictates of her permit.

SILAS NKALA/
LUYANDUHLOBO MAKWATI

The matter has been placed off remand to proceed by way of summons after the State failed to secure a witness from the Zimbabwe Immigration Department.

May Heather Wells (55) of England, who stays in Suburbs, is co-director of Flip Storm Services at 34 Chelmsford Road Matsheumhlope in Bulawayo and is a shareholder with 30% shares.

Wells was taken to court charged with violating conditions of issue of residence permit.

She was granted $50 bail without conditions attached on January 27 2015, but the State withheld her passport.

She challenged the move at the court seeking the release of her passport and Bulawayo magistrate Tinashe Tashaya ruled that the State must release it within 48 hours.

He ruled that she must never tamper with the passport in any way that affects evidence of the State case.

Tashaya ordered Wells to return the passport to the State upon request when the trial commences.

Her lawyer, Leslie Sibanda, said on March 10 Wells went to court for trial, but the State was not yet prepared to prosecute the case as they had not managed to get someone from immigration to testify.

The magistrate ruled that the matter would proceed by way of summons while she is not allowed to work.

Allegations are that Wells is a British passport holder with a Zimbabwean resident permit as an investor issued on the strength of her investing in the country only.

On January 1 2015, Wells was issued with a three-year contract at Petra High School to work as school head.

On January 26 2015, she was arrested by immigration officials at Petra High School.

Her firm, Flip Storm Services, majors in business development consultancy.

The institution was licensed by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority on May 6 2013 and it expires on May 5 2015.

Other shareholders in the company are Mark Wells, her husband with 31% shares, Tapiwa Chizana a Zimbabwean with 30%, Cephas Tapedzisa a Zimbabwean with 4% and Keith Maphosa a Zimbabwean with 4%.

Wells is an educationist and has worked in government institutions providing consultancy services, for example at the United College of Education.

She has worked in other private schools during her stay in Zimbabwe.

The problem arose when she took up a consultancy position with Petra High School in January 2015 after the school entered into a two-year contract with Flip Storm Services.

The school had hired the company on a two-year service contract and she was assigned as a consultant to take up the administration position as a head of Petra High School, leading to her arrest by immigration officials.

Immigration officials list Wells as a dependant of her husband, Mark.

“Where applicable, your wife and minor children have been included in the permit as dependents provided all relevant documents in their respect have been submitted,” reads a letter to Mark dated September 14 2011.

“Please note, dependents are not permitted to engage in employment, whether paid or not.”

Her lawyer said the immigration authority was misdirecting itself by claiming that she was a dependent, as she had been working in the country for a long time and was in possession of work and residence permits.

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