S.African court refuses to extradite Grace Mugabe's partner

16th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

A South African court rejected a bid by the Zimbabwe attorney-general to extradite a former business partner of Grace Mugabe to stand trial in Zimbabwe for defrauding the first lady, media said on Tuesday.

Mugabe is said to have paid Ping Sung Hsieh, a Johannesburg-based business man $1 million for the purchase of six haulage trucks and trailers in 2008.

According to the Star newspaper, the money was transferred by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to one of Ping's companies.

The trucks were ordered by Mugabe to help her eldest son from her first marriage to start a transport business.

She is also said to have ordered equipment for her dairy farm, outside Harare.

Magistrate Pieter du Plessis criticised the Zimbabwe Attorney General, Johannes Tomana who was present in court for the hearing, for failing to provide a proper affidavit to support his demand for Ping's extradition.

"At most it's a statement not an affidavit," said Du Plessis.

He said any case against Ping should be "civil, not criminal".

His lawyer argued that the money was paid into Ping's business account not his personal account.

In February, four South African drivers were arrested in Harare after they delivered some of the trucks, they claim they are being held ransom because of a fall-out between Grace and Ping.

"I will be sending a letter to the attorney-general first thing Tuesday saying that they now must be released, because he (Tomana) has said they were being held to stand trial with Ping and the extradition application has failed, said the drivers' lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

© 2011 AFP

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