HARARE – Henrietta Rushwaya on Wednesday told a court that she was too invested in Zimbabwe to run away if granted bail.
The Harare Magistrate’s Court heard that the Zimbabwe Miners Federation president owns mines with mineral deposits worth “hundreds of millions”.
The 53-year-old former ZIFA CEO is battling to secure bail following her arrest on October 26 after she was intercepted with 6kg of gold worth US$333,000 as she was about to board a flight to Dubai.
She is jointly charged with gold dealer Ali Muhamad, state intelligence agents Stephen Tserayi and Rafios Mufandauya and Zimbabwe Miners Federation employee, Gift Karanda. They face charges of smuggling, criminal abuse of office and defeating the course of justice.
Rushwaya’s lawyer Tapson Dzvetero presented a special grant certificate for Mupfurudzi Safari area mining for a company called Realm Technologies, in which Rushwaya is a director and shareholder.
While cross examining the investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Michael Chibaya, Dzvetero said the mine was worth “hundreds of millions” and Rushwaya could never run away from such a lucrative business just to avoid prosecution.
Dzvetero also showed the court a ‘Memorandum of Mining Lease Agreement’ between the Parks and Wildlife Authority and Realm Technologies where Rushwaya is the signatory.
“As the investigating officer, do you think the accused (Rushwaya) would run away from such a business venture?” Dzvetero asked.
Chibaya, who believes Rushwaya has links outside the country who may help her to skip bail, said he cannot give a comment based on documents without making investigations.
He also said Rushwaya developed links internationally during her time as ZIFA CEO and was well travelled.
Dzvetero said Rushwaya also owned Canacube Zimbabwe Private Limited which has a licence to farm and market medical cannabis as well as industrial hemp.
She also has a ‘Tribute Mining Agreement’ in respect of a mine in Shangani, Matabeleland South, with “vast gold ore”, the lawyer said.
Realm Technologies also has a contract mining agreement with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation for exploration diamond drilling.
Chibaya said investigations were ongoing to establish the extent of her business interests.
“It was difficult to interview Rushwaya on these matters when I took over investigations on October 28 as she was at Remand Prison,” he said.
Rushwaya has over 50 employees and two children depending on her, magistrate Ngoni Nduna heard.
She is also a family woman taking care of her parents and has been cooperating with investigators, the lawyer said.
Dzvetero, on behalf of Rushwaya, denied that she had tried to bribe Owen Sibanda and Dzikamai Paradza who were manning the X-ray machine at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport after they observed objects with a dense colour in her handbag.
The lawyer told Chibaya that Sibanda and Paradza’s statements to the police did not mention that Rushwaya tried to bribe them. In any case, Rushwaya had no money on her when she was arrested and could not have tried to bribe anyone, said Dzvetero.
Chibaya was also cross-examined by Muhamad’s lawyer, Tinashe Tanyanyiwa Snr, who said the Pakistani businessman complied with police directives and also handed himself in.
Chibaya insisted that Muhamad was implicated by statements by Rushwaya when she was arrested, and paperwork also found on Rushwaya. Muhamad and Rushwaya both deny that he owned the gold, or that she was found in possession of a commercial invoice bearing his name.
Admire Rubaya, representing Karanda, also had an opportunity to cross-examine Chibaya.
Rubaya challenged prosecution claims that Karanda went to the airport and told investigators holding Rushwaya that the gold belonged to first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and her son, Collins.
“He never name-dropped in order to save his boss, as alleged by the State,” said Rubaya, adding that Karanda had no contact with the Mnangagwas.
Investigating officer Chibaya insisted: “Offenders use any dirty tactic to instil fear in security agents with the sole motive of getting freedom. Such dirty tactics involve name-dropping.”
Rubaya said the mentioning of names can only intimidate those without confidence in their duties and responsibilities. His client had done nothing wrong, the lawyer said.
The court heard that initial investigations have shown that CCTV cameras at the airport were switched off, although Chibaya admitted there were two power outages experienced on the day. Police are yet to ascertain the timeframe for when those power outages occurred, to compare to the time when Rushwaya arrived.
The bail hearing continues on Thursday. – ZimLive