Our hands are tied — police

Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
THERE is no legislation in the country that will allow law enforcement agents to prosecute locals and suspects implicated in match-fixing scandals. A few years ago, former ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya was arrested at the height of the Asiagate match-fixing scandal but her case was dismissed before she could even take her defence. The Herald yesterday learnt that suspects implicated in such scams can be reported to the Criminal Investigations Department were charges of fraud can be opened against them.

And in such cases, the suspects can walk free at the courts as the fraud charges will not cover the exact offence. A senior police officer said: “There is no law that covers such a scam. Charges that would or probably be taken against the suspects can be fraud although with this charge, they could walk free.”

Government said there was prima facie evidence against the cartel that is accused of having been fixing matches in South Africa and Zimbabwe.. The cartel, according to the Government, might have tried to, or even influenced, matches involving the Warriors at the recent CHAN finals in Rwanda, and were en route to trying to fix the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers between Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

In November last year, the Government indicated that it will craft legislation against doping and match-fixing, making such offences punishable by law in this country.

Currently, offenders can walk free because there are no laws against doping and match-fixing in this country.

The Ministry of Sport and Recreation said yesterday that they would craft legislation to fight the vices and make them punishable by law.

“Following the Sport and Recreation Commission inquiry into the state of football in Zimbabwe, Government has noted with great concern, the lack of accountability, non-compliance and lack of good governance characterising the football architecture in Zimbabwe,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“The cancer of corruption traverses all sections of the football fraternity thereby crippling the optimal development of football in Zimbabwe.

“It is, therefore, Government’s intention to deal with the cancer of corruption in football and other sport codes, by including, but not limited to, the introduction of legislation on match-fixing as well as doping.

“(The) Ministry of Sport and Recreation envisages an environment where match-fixing, doping as well as other malpractices should be punishable by law in order to ensure the integrity of the Sport Movement in Zimbabwe.

“Government takes very seriously the integrity and credibility of sport and calls for the Sport Movement to play its part in ensuring the restoration of ethical behaviour and values so as to guarantee fair play across all sporting disciplines,” read the statement.

Over the last few years, four players were banned for doping in both football and rugby with Shane Joubert — then 20 years old — receiving a six-year ban after he was found on the wrong side of the World Rugby anti-doping regulations.

Joubert was part of the Zimbabwe Under-20 side that finished seventh at the Junior World Rugby Trophy tournament in the United States three years ago. Dylan Coetzee and Simbarashe Chirara were also involved.

Zimbabwe international footballer Devon Chafa was in 2013 banned for six months after failing a doping test following a World Cup qualifier against Egypt in June of the same year.

Football was also rocked by the Asiagate match-fixing scandal with ZIFA punishing a number of players and officials but the sanctions were not endorsed by FIFA, who felt that the process leading to the punishments was flawed.

ZIFA have since pardoned or cleared virtually all those who were implicated in the scandal. In 1997, it was reported that former Liverpool and Zimbabwe goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar deliberately tried to throw English Premier League matches in return for large sums of money.

There were reports that Grobbelaar and three co-defendants had been involved in a scheme to rig matches for an Asian betting syndicate over a number of years.

Grobbelaar was allegedly paid £40 000 ($65 000) for throwing a match against Newcastle in November 1993 when playing for Liverpool and also tried to influence games after he moved to Southampton in 1994.

Grobbelaar, former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker John Fashanu, former Wimbledon goalkeeper Hans Segers and Malaysian businessman Heng Suan Lim all denied the charges. Grobbelaar was also charged for allegedly taking £2 000 ($3 300) as an inducement to rig games. Calvert Smith said Lim and Fashanu acted as middlemen for the syndicate while Grobbelaar and Segers — who at the time was playing for Wimbledon — were trying to let in goals.

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