Nazmeera Ebrahim is hoping Cassimjee Bilal, a South African truck driver charged with swindling President Robert Mugabe’s wife, will be set free soon.
Bilal and three other South Africans have been caught in the crossfire between Grace Mugabe and her former associate, Ping Sung Hsieh, after a $1-million deal went sour.
Earlier this year Bilal, 28, Henry Radebe, 57, Samuel Baloyi, 60, and Sydney Sekgobela, 44, were hired by Ping to deliver three trucks to Grace Mugabe’s aides in Harare.
The deal dates back to 2007, when the Mugabe family agreed to buy six haulage trucks from South Africa for $1-million. Zimbabwe’s reserve bank transferred the money to Ping’s company in South Africa – but the trucks were not delivered.
Finally, on February 18 this year, Ping sent the four drivers to deliver the trucks. But the South Africans were arrested on arriving in Harare. They were granted bail after two weeks in jail, but may not leave Zimbabwe before their June trial.
Ebrahim, 28, has had to delay preparations for her transplant by two months because of her husband’s incarceration.
The mother of two young children is mostly confined to bed. “I have to do heart measurements, but I can’t because I need his support. I can’t do this alone.”
She also struggles to care for her eight-month-old son, Dayan, and daughter Nazraana, 5. Ebrahim was diagnosed with cancer last year, but her heart was damaged by the chemotherapy meant to cure her.
Although the four drivers are living in a house in Harare, and can phone their families, they have to report to the police twice a day.
Despite the phone conversations, Ebrahim said the uncertainty about Bilal’s return was “killing” her.
“He is very worried about us. If my husband was involved in the swindling of so much money, we would be rich,” she said.
Meanwhile Sydney Sekgobela’s wife, Mavis, said her husband sounded depressed when they spoke by phone.
“The government must do something because they were wrongfully arrested. They don’t know anything about a botched truck deal,” Mavis Sekgobela said.
Ping was arrested by the Hawks in South Africa in July 2010 on fraud charges relating to the deal.
He has appeared in the Vereeniging Magistrates’ Court but not yet entered a plea. He is due to appear in court again on June 14, where an application for Ping’s extradition to Zimbabwe will be heard.
Last month the truckers’ families wrote to the Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, asking her to intervene.
A spokesman for the department said the minister would consider the request.
Advocate Mannie Witz, who is acting for Ping, is also liaising with the drivers’ Zimbabwean lawyer.
He said: “These drivers were just there to deliver the trucks.”