Zimbabwe Vice-President’s wife faces life imprisonment

Mrs Mary Chiwenga - Picture by Kudakwashe Hunda

HARARE – Marry Chiwenga, the embattled estranged wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga faces a maximum of life imprisonment if convicted for a charge to kill the former army General.

Chiwenga is facing attempted murder, fraud and currency externalisation charges

Fraud attracts a maximum penalty of 35 years in jail, while one can be jailed up to 25 years for money laundering.

The state alleges that she visited her husband at a Netcare hospital in South Africa, dismissed his security staff, and when alone with him allegedly removed the intravenous giving set and the central venous catheter.

Chiwenga is being represented by legal guru Beatrice Mtetwa who said her client was arrested while she was naked.

“She was in the bathroom in her bedroom when the men suddenly opened the door while she was naked and told her that she was under arrest,” Mtetwa said. “They searched her bedroom without saying what they were looking for. She was taken to the police. After that they came back to the house and Marry’s mother who had accompanied her to the police was not allowed back into the house. She had her car parked at her daughter’s house.”

Prosecutors say Marry Mubaiwa tried to unplug Chiwenga’s life support tubes in a South African hospital in June.

She was initially arrested on Saturday by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on charges of fraud, money laundering and breaching exchange control rules, and is accused of illegally transferring $900,000 to South Africa.

She denies all the accusations against her and her lawyer said she would seek bail at Zimbabwe’s High Court. She was refused bail for the initial charges after prosecutors argued she would flee the country or interfere with witnesses.

The charges follow media reports that Mubaiwa and Chiwenga, who returned to Zimbabwe last month after four months in a Chinese hospital where he was later treated for a blocked oesophagus, were set to divorce.

Opposition politicians took to social media to accuse Chiwenga of using his position to influence a divorce settlement. Chiwenga could not be reached for comment.

Critics of ZACC say it is conflicted because its head judge, Loice Matanda-Moyo, is married to Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo, a top ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and of Chiwenga.

The ZACC denies this and said it will prosecute all corruption cases without fear or favour.

Prosecutors also told the court that Mubaiwa was being investigated for misusing U.S. dollar allowances meant for her husband’s security details.