HARARE – The long court hearings over the bail applications by Henrietta Rushwaya and her four co-defendants held on charges of attempting to smuggle 6kg of gold continued in their second week yesterday.
One of the CIO security officers accused of escorting Rushwaya through the VIP route at Robert Mugabe International Airport tried to cast doubt over CCTV footage.
The State is relying on footage that allegedly shows Stephen Tserai and Raphios Mufandauya accompanying Rushwaya through the VIP route, which is why they are facing charges of abuse of public office in the matter.
Yesterday Tserai, through his lawyer Admire Rubaya, tried to weaken that case by alleging that the State has destroyed the digital version of the footage and is relying on an analogue version, which can be easily manipulated. He thus supported his bail application by saying he was unlikely to be convicted.
Mr Rubaya, who has been casting doubt in his questioning throughout the bail hearing over all evidence held by the State, said on the CCTV footage that Tserai “suspects that (police) may want to manipulate it to his detriment after destroying the digital footage which is difficult to manipulate”.
The lawyer also wanted the police and State to obtain CCTV footage from Zimra and CIO systems, not just from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. He said the particular CCTV footage would not be admissible in the trial.
“The State case is not strong and has no reason to abscond. When no real and cogent, compelling reasons exist, accused should be granted bail,” he said.
Mr Rubaya told the court that Tserai was willing to report to the CID Law and Order ‘as many times as the court would have ordered’ as part of his bail conditions.
Although he did not reveal the amount he was prepared to deposit as bail, Mr Rubaya said Tserai was prepared to deposit title deeds of his property as surety.
“He has no reason to abscond and as a civil servant it is difficult to eke a living in his country. He is safer when he is here in the country than anywhere else.
“It is important to take note that Covid-19 pandemic is causing havoc outside the country and Zimbabwe is a bit safer. Why seek to kill himself by running away from a safer place in Zimbabwe.”
Tserai is appearing along with Rushwaya, Mufandauya, Pakistan businessman Ali Muhamad and Zimbabwe Miners Federation external relations officer Gift Karanda.
They are all expected back in court today where lawyers will submit written closing bail submissions to Magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna. Already Rushwaya has supported her bail application with her defence testimony that she grabbed the wrong bag on the way to the airport, and has offered $90 000 bail and the title deeds to her house, while Muhamad has denied any involvement in the matter, said he would never abandon his US$50 million business empire in Zimbabwe by absconding, and has offered bail of $100 000 and title deeds. – Herald