via Relief for SA pilot as 7-year sentence is quashed | The Herald May 13, 2015 by Daniel Nemukuyu
The High Court yesterday quashed a seven-year prison term imposed on South African businessman Frederick Lutskie who crashed his helicopter in Gwanda and buried the wreckage after illegally entering Zimbabwe.
Justices Francis Bere and Charles Hungwe, sitting as a court of appeal, instead ordered Lutskie to pay $400 for each of the 14 counts on which he was convicted.
In total, Lutskie will pay $5 600 for all his offences.
The judges granted the appeal after convincing arguments by Advocate Thabani Mpofu. He argued that the penalty imposed was severe and shocking considering that the pilot had pleaded guilty to the offences.
Lutzkie last year pleaded guilty to 14 counts of contravening sections of the Civil Aviation Act and the Immigration Act when he appeared before Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe.
The facts are that during the period extending from February 1 to 28 last year, Lutzkie flew his helicopter from South Africa and landed at Doddiebun Range in Gwanda where he runs a game farm.
He was flying without permission from the Civil Aviation of Zimbabwe in accordance with the terms and conditions specified by the authority.
Using the same method, Lutzkie illegally flew into Zimbabwe several times.
On April 27, Lutzkie fraudulently acquired an entry stamp at Beitbridge border post and used the same method to get an exit stamp.
On May 5, at around 9am, Lutzkie flew from a lodge in Gwanda en-route to South Africa before crashing after flying for about four kilometres.
The court heard that he did not report the accident to the authorities within the stipulated 24 hours. Lutzkie went on to dig a deep pit using an excavator and buried the wreckage of the helicopter before returning to South Africa. The wreckage was recovered on May 20 after a tip-off.