Bennett’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa yesterday filed an urgent chamber application with the High Court seeking the immediate release of the passport from the Attorney-General (AG)’s office.
Although the AG’s office had asked Mtetwa to drop the application and promised to deliver the passport, the document was still unavailable by late yesterday.
In his application Bennett said he travelled to Mutare on May 12 to collect his bail, title deeds and the passport surrendered to the Mutare Clerk of Court as part of his bail conditions.
“To my surprise and horror I discovered that the passport had been uplifted from the lawful custody of the Clerk of Court on March 29 2010 and the clerk’s record book showed that the 2nd respondent (Michael Mugabe) had in fact signed for the passport,” reads the application.
“As the 2nd respondent was unavailable to explain the circumstances of his removal of the passport from the Clerk of Court and I was advised that the bail deposit would only be ready for collection on the 14th May 2010 it was decided that the issue of the passport be raised with the 2nd respondent.”
Bennett said on May 14 Mugabe confirmed that he took the passport on March 29 on the instructions of Chris Mutangadura, chief law officer based in Harare. Mutangadura is cited as the third respondent in the application.
“My legal practitioners addressed a letter to the respondents on May 19 2010. No response has been received to this letter and I remain in the dark as to the whereabouts of the passport, the reasons why it was uplifted from the lawful custody of the Clerk of Court, and the legal authority that entitled the respondents to act as they did,” reads Bennett’s application.
He said he urgently needed the passport because he wanted to seek specialist medical treatment in the United Kingdom on May 28. He also wants to attend the funeral of a friend, Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, the prominent South African politician who will be buried tomorrow.
Mtetwa said the actions of the AG’s office lacked transparency.
“Upon receipt of your (Mutangadura) letter we immediately telephoned our Mutare correspondents to verify that the passport was indeed with the Clerk of Court and it was discovered that the Clerk of Court does not have the passport,” Mtetwa said in response to Mutangadura’s letter yesterday.
“We then telephoned Mr Mugabe to also verify that the passport is indeed with the Clerk of Court and he has advised that the passport is not with the Clerk of Court. Mr Mugabe further advised that he had immediately telephoned Mr Mutangadura to get details to whom the passport had been surrendered and Mr Mutangadura advised that he had just dispatched people from Harare to go and surrender the passport to the Clerk of Court Mutare and that the passport should be with the Clerk of Court at Mutare by 15.00 hours.”
President Robert Mugabe has refused to swear-in Bennett as Deputy Agriculture minister on the basis of the treason charges he was cleared of by the High Court last week.
An application for leave to appeal against Bennett’s acquittal by the AG and allegations of undermining the liberation struggle are set to keep the popular politician out of government.
lIn an interview yesterday Bennett denied ever being a member of the Selous Scouts or taking part in the formation of the Republican Front and has challenged Zanu PF politicians who have accused him to bring forward evidence.
Bennett said he had instructed his lawyers to sue Zanu PF politicians and the Herald and Sunday Mail for “peddling falsehoods” about him.
He said he intended to sue Zanu PF MP Jonathan Moyo who was quoted in the Sunday Mail this week saying Bennett was a “well-known Rhodesian whose hands are dripping with the blood of innocent Zimbabweans”.
Clarifying his background, he said: “I grew up with a rural background and went to a boarding school in Harare and later, after finishing school, like every white person at that time we were conscripted into national service in 1974. I decided to sign on as a regular in the British South Africa Police rather than being involved in any military (force). I served in the BSA Police from 1974 to 1978 and my duties were simply being a policeman and not as a soldier,” said Bennett. He was based at Harare Central.
He said after leaving the police he went and trained at a tobacco training institute and acquired a first class diploma in tobacco farming and then started farming in 1979.
“I have never ever had anything to do with the Selous Scouts or anything to do with the army or military,” the MDC-T treasurer said.