Jailed helicopter crash pilot granted bail

HARARE - A South African businessman who was jailed for an effective three-and-a-half-years for 14 counts of contravening the Civil Aviation Act and the Immigration Act, has been granted bail by the same magistrate who convicted him.

Fredrick Wilhelm August Lutzkie, 52, was jailed after he crashed his helicopter in Gwanda and buried the wreckage after entering Zimbabwe illegally.

Harare magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe ordered Lutzkie to provide surety of $25 000 before depositing a further $2 000 bail before his release.

Chikwekwe noted that he was in an awkward position where he was being asked to review his own work.

He however, said Lutzkie was a perfect candidate for bail pending appeal because he had handed himself over and complied with local authorities.

“Against all odds, the appellant handed himself to authorities in Zimbabwe and that is not consistent with a person who is likely to abscond,” Chikwekwe said.

“He has also invested $23 million in businesses in Zimbabwe and is not going to flee from such a huge investment.”

As part of bail conditions, Lutzkie was ordered to seek a written warning from Criminal Investigations Department (CID) each time he intends to travel and report twice a week at CID Bulawayo.

Prosecutor Michael Reza opposed bail on the basis that Lutzkie tried to conceal his crime, was into money laundering deals and did not hand himself over to the police.

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