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Incarcerate Rushwaya syndicate, says State

by Staff reporter
03 Nov 2020 at 08:35hrs | Views
THE State has opposed bail for an alleged gold syndicate, which includes Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya, businessman Ali Mohamad, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officers Steven Tserayi and Raphios Mufandauya, and Gift Karanda, claiming they will flee from the country.

The State added that a hovering minimum five-year-jail sentence each for unlawful possession of gold has the potential to make them flee into self-imposed exile.

This follows the arrest of Rushwaya at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport last week after she was found with 6kg of gold, which led to the arrest of the other four.

The State made the submission yesterday during the bail application hearing by the five, who are facing allegations of smuggling and unlawful possession of gold. Earlier, magistrate Ngoni Nduna had dismissed Mohamad's application refusing to be placed on remand on a charge of smuggling.

The magistrate ruled the issues he was raising in his application must make part of his defence when the case goes for trial.  After the initial setback, Mohamad and Rushwaya had to abandon their intention to challenge placement on remand on a charge of unlawful possession of gold.

State counsel Garudzo Ziyaduma said they are yet to arrest other people who are part of the syndicate and that there is evidence that systems at the airport were manipulated.

Investigating officer Michael Chibaya said Rushwaya made contacts across the world during her days as Zifa chief executive who can give her sanctuary if she is freed on bail.

The State also said that there is a likelihood that she would interfere with witnesses as she had attempted to bribe an officer with US$5 000.

The State further claims that Mohamad could also interfere with witnesses, saying the officers who were deployed to arrest him are now before the courts after they suspiciously met him and left without arresting him.

The State said Mohamad is a Pakistan national who was in the country on a business trip and his visa has since expired. It said he has connections on three continents and has the means to sustain himself outside the country and with a five-year jail term hanging over his head, he could abscond and there is no extradition treaty between
Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

The State further claims that Mohamad facilitated Rushwaya's travel arrangements, which shows that he has the capacity to facilitate an escape for the co-accused if granted bail.

The State also said there is overwhelming evidence against the suspects as airport CCTV footage showed Rushwaya in the company of the CIO operatives. It is alleged Tserayi was arrested while carrying Rushwaya's luggage and Mufandauya with her travel documents while passing through the VIP section.

The state added that the CIO operatives allegedly assisted Rushwaya bypass all security checkpoints at the airport.

For Karanda, the State said he played to the mind of the officers who had arrested Rushwaya with the investigating officer, saying he name-dropped First Lady Auxillia Mnangagawa's name as the owner of the gold.

Chibaya claimed Karanda told the officers at the airport that the case was as good as over as the gold belonged to the first lady.

The State further said the area where he was at the airport is not ordinary. He said it was not clear how he appeared soon after the arrest of Rushwaya, yet he is not a lawyer or public figure.

Before the bail hearing, Karanda's lawyer, Dumisani Mthombeni, had applied to the court for his client to be given his warned and cautioned statements, but abandoned it after the State said they would bring the investigating officer to the witness stand. The five will be back in court today for continuation of the bail hearing

Source - Daily News

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