By Maynard Manyowa
Kuala Lumpur – A prominent modelling Zimbabwean pageant director, Taremeredzwa Munzara has been released from police custody in Malaysia after he was arrested on suspicion of engaging in human trafficking.
Munzara was arrested in Malaysia after a South African model, Princess Mahlangu alleged she was threatened after arriving in the Asian country for Miss United Countries, a pageant run by Munzara.
South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Investigations (The HAWKS), the South African Police Service, Interpol and the Royal Malaysian Police consequently arrested Munzara in a joint operation which was widely publicized.
The pageant which was scheduled to be held on July 29 was subsequently cancelled at the behest of the Malaysian authorities, and the models travelled home.
On his release Munzara took to Facebook, expressing gratitude to those who had supported him through his ordeal.
“I am beyond grateful, so shout out to all those people from different countries, especially Zimbabwe and South Africa, who believe in me, supporting me through adversity without doubting me, family, friends, business associates and constituents.” wrote Munzara on his Facebook Profile.
Munzara denies he was arrested at all. In communication sent to this publication, he states that he was detained by police, but was not arrested.
“I was never arrested. I have police letter to clear that I was detained and not arrested. Police and Interpol cleared me off saying there is no case” he stated.
“All that was published or claimed is false untrue and malicious info. I have evidence to prove that (sic)” he added.
Munzara’s account differs from the account of HAWKS spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi who confirmed Munzara’s arrest.
South Africa’ Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula also confirmed that Munzara had been arrested in connection with the human trafficking case.
A source close to Munzara stated that Munzara’s case had been dismissed because of lack of evidence. A claim which South African authorities dismissed.
“As far as i know the case was dismissed because there was no evidence of trafficking. It is fishy. The girl posted videos on her arrival in Malaysia on her instagram and she was singing and having fun (Nehanda Radio & Khuluma Afrika have seen the videos). She was not being trafficked. At best, she was just upset because she was made to travel for a pageant which was not materializing, and she had paid money.”, Munzara’s friend stated.
A member of SAPS media team denied this version, insisting that Munzara had not been released, but the matter was withdrawn as the woman who had implicated Munzara could not travel back to Malaysia for investigations and trial.
“The victim refused to return to Malaysia to continue with the case, so the Royal Malaysian Police had no option but to withdraw the case altogether. Investigations in South African will continue, and it is very likely that he will be arrested or face some form of trouble running other pageants in SA”.
Although Munzara reached out to this publication seeking a retraction of the original story about his arrest being a detention, efforts to get a further comment from him were fruitless as his phone went to voicemail. A family member stated that he believed he was in transit back to Zimbabwe.