Suspect in Grace Mugabe fraud case wants bail relaxed

Cassim Jee Bilal, one of the South Africans accused of defrauding President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace, is petitioning the High Court in a desperate bid to save his ailing wife, who requires emergency heart surgery.

Bilal and three other South African drivers, Henry Radebe, Samuel Baloyi and Sydney Sekgobela, were arrested in February and charged with fraud after they delivered three trucks to Grace Mugabe’s orphanage in Mazowe using a temporary import permit.

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They allegedly did this under the instructions of Chinese national Ping Sung Hsieh, an associate of the First Family.

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The South Africans are on bail awaiting trial in June. Prosecutors are hoping to have Ping extradited to Zimbabwe to stand trial with the drivers.

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But in court papers filed at the High Court on Wednesday, Bilal has requested to be permitted to travel to South Africa pending the commencement of his trial.

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This is to attend to the signing of documents authorising his wife’s medical treatment and to make satisfactory arrangements for the welfare of his minor children during his wife’s confinement in hospital.

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Bilal’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo said his wife Nzameera Ebrahim, with whom he has two children aged five years and eight months respectively, was in imminent danger of losing her life due to her precarious medical condition.

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“Applicant (Bilal)’s presence in South Africa is required urgently to ensure that any medical procedures necessary aimed at prolonging her life can be conducted without delay,” Nkomo said in his certificate of urgency filed together with the urgent chamber application.

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Bilal pleaded with the High Court to allow him to travel to South Africa on humanitarian grounds since he is the principal breadwinner for his family.

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“I am advised that my wife’s condition is now dire and that although opportunities for a transplant have been received, there has been no one to take the lead as head of the family and in frustration she has refused to attend at the doctor’s rooms, preferring to die if necessary, if I do not return to South Africa.

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“In addition, this means that my two young children have no one to look after them and I have been advised by both the medical team and members of my family that the longer I remain in Zimbabwe, the higher the likelihood of my wife dying, as her chances reduce with every day when there is no-one to sign all the relevant and necessary documents,” reads part of Bilal’s affidavit.

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Bilal pledged to surrender his Toyota Fortuner which he brought to Zimbabwe to transport the three truck drivers back to South Africa. Ebrahim’s doctor, Professor Mohammed Rafique Essop, urged the High Court to vary Bilal’s bail conditions.

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“From a medical perspective, the applicant’s wife’s chances of a successful transplant would be greatly enhanced by the applicant’s presence, and I implore the court to give justice a human and caring face,” Essop said in a supporting affidavit dated April 19, which was seen by the Sunday Times.