Henrietta Rushwaya cleared of bribery allegations

12 Aug, 2022 - 00:08 0 Views
Henrietta Rushwaya cleared of bribery allegations Henrietta Rushwaya

The Herald

Senior Court Reporter 

ZIMBABWE Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya was yesterday cleared on allegations of offering a bribe to an airport official to allow her to travel out of the country with 6kgs of gold in October 2020.

Rushwaya was charged with bribery and was acquitted after a full trial.

In acquitting Rushwaya, Harare regional magistrate Mrs Learnmore Mapiye said the State’s evidence, through witnesses, left many doubts on how she could have committed the offence. 

Mrs Mapiye said the two witnesses who testified during the trial, including the chief witness Owen Sibanda, failed to corroborate in their testimonies leaving the court in doubt.

She said the star witness, Sibanda, told the court that he denied being offered a bribe in court saying he thought Rushwaya was joking, leaving the court puzzled as to why he decided to take it as serious two years later.

Mrs Mapiye said that the court also noted that there were three witness statements that were recorded and the court was left wondering why Rushwaya was handed an unsigned statement for preparation of the trial.

She said the unanswered questions dealt a big blow to the State’s case and also made it difficult for the court to be convinced that Rushwaya could have committed the offence.

Rushwaya, who was represented by lawyer Mr Peter Patisani, had denied the charges saying her prosecution was malicious and aimed at soiling her good name.

She told the court that she never offered any bribe to anyone since she had no intention to smuggle the gold in question.

Rushwaya denied ever offering a bribe and suggested her prosecution was as a result of malicious people who wanted to soil her name as president of small-scale gold miners, accusing the two witnesses from airport security of making up the story to do this for someone else. She claimed that she never offered a bribe to anyone and had no intentions to smuggle gold out of the country, saying it was a case of her carrying a wrong bag to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, which ended with her arrest. She told the court that she was a gold buying agent for Fidelity Printers and Refiners and that she held a gold buying license.

“I did not possess US$5 000 and I did not offer Owen Sibanda anything since I was not in possession of anything,” she said. 

“I did not offer Owen Sibanda anything and I had no reason to offer him anything considering that Owen Sibanda’s duty is of scanning bags and to see free passage of travellers. There was no need to offer him money over a duty that does not entail him to receive money.”

Rushwaya told the court that if she had intentions to smuggle gold, she would have not volunteered to go through the security scanning point after being ushered by the airport officials to use the VIP section.

She said she advised airport officials, including Owen Sibanda whom she allegedly offered the bribe, that she had picked a wrong bag from home.

“It was only when my bag was put on the scanning machine that I realised that I had gold,” said Rushwaya. “I advised Owen Sibanda and the other members around me, that is airport officials, that I had taken the wrong bag.

“I asked them if they could accompany me to my house to pick the correct bag, but unfortunately, I got arrested. If I had intentions to smuggle, I would not have put the bag on the scanner. Being a president of an organisation that produces the largest amount of gold in Zimbabwe, I would not have carried gold without requisite papers or export without requisite papers.”

Rushwaya said upon her arrest, she cooperated with law enforcement agents at all material times.

She told the court that the police went to take the other bag, which she claims is similar to the one she was found with at the airport, during the time she was in remand prison. Rushwaya said the police were still in custody of the two similar bags since 2020.

She also told the court that the two witnesses that testified against her, Mr Sibanda and Ms Dzikamai Paradza, falsified information to appease “a third force” that might be working to soil her good name.

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