Beitbridge magistrate has turned down an application for refusal of remand by a man suspected of kidnapping five Indian nationals including a baby in the border town last week.
Calvin Phiri of Dulivhadzimo in Beitbridge is denying the charges, and instead argues that he rescued Patel Leshkumar, Natvarbhal Mohammed Taushif, Shaikh Aliyah, Corah Sakir and the baby after they got stranded.
But resident magistrate Takudzwa Gwazemba said Phiri owed the court some explanation if he admits having assisted the Indian nationals to cross the border into South Africa.
“The accused should be put on remand. He faces a kidnapping charge, alternatively assisting people without (travel) documents. There is talk about ransom as well and he should be placed on demand,” Gwazemba ruled.
Through his lawyer Julius Maphosa of Masawi and Partners, Phiri had argued that he deserved to be placed off remand as he assisted the stranded foreign nationals.
“Further, there are no witnesses or complainants in this matter and placing the accused on remand will not be proper,” Maphosa submitted.
Phiri claimed he never asked for ransom, but was asking for a refund to cover expenses incurred rescuing the foreign nationals.
The State represented by Ronald Mugwagwa opposed the application saying kidnapping was a very serious offence.
“The accused is also the registered owner of mobile phone 0778XXX650 used to contact the South African agent of the five identified only identified as Mohammed,” said Mugwagwa.
At around 4am on July 13, Phiri is suspected to have intercepted the five who were travelling in a Toyota Fortuner car from Bulawayo to Beitbridge.
It is alleged Phiri whisked them away and later demanded US$2 000 ransom from each of the foreigners for their release.
Phiri handed himself in to the police after facilitating their travel to their relatives in Musina, South Africa.