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I want my gold back, Rushwaya tells court

HENRIETTA Rushwaya and Pakistani businessman Ali Muhamad are willing to accept stiffer bail conditions than those originally proposed while awaiting trial on charges of attempting to smuggle gold to Dubai and associated charges.

Rushwaya, through her lawyer Mr Tapson Dzvetero, said she was prepared to deposit $90 000, surrender title deeds to one of her properties as surety and report every Friday at Rhodesville Police Station, but would accept even stiffer conditions if magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna wanted to ensure she did not abscond.

She also noted that the four gold bars worth US$333 000 would be returned to her if she was acquitted, and forfeited if found guilty, so she was anxious to stand trial.

Mohamad, through his lawyer Mr Tinashe Tanyanyiwa, offered bail of $100 000 plus surety of the title deeds of his Belvedere house or any other business property and was willing to report twice a week at Milton Park Police Station.

The two are appearing along with Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives Stephen Tserai and Raphios Mufandauya plus Zimbabwe Miners Federation official Gift Karanda.

They are facing between them charges of smuggling, unlawful possession of gold, bribery, criminal abuse of office and obstructing the course of justice, all arising from the discovery of 6kg of gold in Rushwaya’s hand baggage on October 26 as she attempted to board a flight to Dubai using the VIP route at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

The finding of the gold is not in factual dispute, just the intentions and the charges.

In her bail application, Rushwaya said she wanted to clear her name and reclaim her four gold bars. She denies all charges and continues to assert, as she has done from her arrest, that she grabbed the wrong bag when going to the airport.

Rushwaya denied ever having attempted to bribe anyone and says the US$5 000 she is alleged to have offered was not found on her person when she was searched.

Mr Dzvetero said Rushwaya had more than 50 people dependent on her, including employees, and has fixed family ties in Zimbabwe.

He said she had vast businesses interests in mining and was licensed to produce and market cannabis for medication.

Muhamad, through Mr Tanyanyiwa, said he wanted to clear his name and preserve his US$50 million business empire in Zimbabwe.

He denies there was any evidence linking him to the offences and there was no indication in State papers of him having conspired to smuggle the gold outside the country.

The searches at his home revealed detailed information from Fidelity Printers, so he had no need to conspire to smuggle gold, and found no links to the charges he was facing nor to any of his co-accused. No gold was found at his home, even though he had a licence to buy gold and so could have held gold legally.

Tserai, who is represented by Mr Admire Rubaya, described the State’s allegations during the bail hearing as built on “sinking sand.” 

Mr Rubaya said smuggling required proof of intention, and that proof was, he said, lacking for all accused and required Zimra to be the complainant, yet there was no statement from any Zimra official that Rushwaya, “probably in the company of Tserai and Mufandauya”, was called to declare and failed to do so. While the State alleges that Tserai was pulling Rushwaya’s bag as she went through the VIP route on the basis of CCTV evidence, the investigating officer agreed that the bag was not transparent and Tserai could not see the contents, said Mr Rubaya.

The bail hearing for the five accused continues today. Messrs Garudzo Ziyaduma and Charles Muchemwa appeared for the State.

SOURCE: The Herald

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