Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Rushwaya bribery trial starts

by Staff reporter
26 Jul 2022 at 06:32hrs | Views
Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya, who is facing charges of trying to bribe an official from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to let her pass when she was carrying 6,9kg of gold in her luggage as she was trying to leave Zimbabwe in October 2020, applied for discharge at the close of the State case, yesterday.

She pleaded not guilty. The State led by Mrs Netsai Mushayabasa and Miss Sheilla Mupindu opened the prosecution before regional magistrate Mrs Learnmore Mapiye by calling two witnesses.

Mr Owen Sibanda from the CAAZ, who was allegedly offered US$5 000 bribe by Rushwaya, was the first to testify. He told the court that Rushwaya offered him money to allow her passage with the gold.  Mr Sibanda told the court that Rushwaya did not specify in which currency she was to pay the bribe.

"I asked Rushwaya about the contents in the bag. She advised me that it was gold and I requested for the papers for the export of gold and she told me that someone was bringing the papers. She produced a commercial invoice, a parking note written Ali Japan 786 (Pvt) Limited and photocopy of her passport, which I found not relevant to the export of gold.

"I was expecting papers from Fidelity Printers and MMCZ and usually they have an escort to that effect.

"She said ‘I will give you 5 000 to let me through'. I rejected the offer. She did not clarify whether United States dollars or bond," he said.

During cross-examination by defence lawyer Mr Peter Patisani he said there was no cash involved. He did not verify whether Rushwaya had the bribe money on October 26, 2020 when the offence was allegedly committed.

"Confirm that she did not advise how she would give the money and you did not know the currency," asked Mr Patisani.

Mr Sibanda replied: "Affirmative. She did not physically offer the money, but said she will give me 5 000. The bribery money was not there physically to advise the police since she only just said she was going to give me 5 000, and I thought it was a joke.

"I did not take it serious because the money was not there to constitute elements of bribe but the main issue was on smuggling of gold."

Second witness Ms Dzikamai Paradza, told the court that she did not see the money on Rushwaya, but only searched the bag that contained the gold. She heard Rushwaya offering to pay Mr Sibanda 5 000 for her to pass with the gold.

The State then closed its case after her testimony before Rushwaya mounted her application for discharge at the close of the State's case.

In her application through Mr Patisani she said the two witnesses had failed to adduce evidence that warrants her to be put to her defence as the essential elements of a bribery charge had not been shown. The two witnesses had not seen any money she would use for a bribe and did had not stated how she would pay.

"Was she going to pay through Ecocash, bank account or send someone to give them the same amount left the court speculating. In the absence of clarity from the State, its case is weak," argued Mr Patisani.

Rushwaya, in the application, said there was inconsistencies in the two witnesses' testimonies.

Mrs Mushayabasa responding for the State argued that merely saying something about the 5000 was enough to prove that Rushwaya offered a bribe.

"The witnesses testified that she allegedly offered 5000 so that they would allow him to pass without showing papers from Fidelity or MMCZ. They are deployed in aviation security and their duties was to scan for passengers travelling. The witness qualified to be an agent since he is an employee of Aviation.

"The State believes that the evidence of the witnesses was not materially destroyed as both were clear in essential elements of bribe as they said there was an offer of 5000 to let accused pass through with gold," she said.

Mrs Mushayabasa told the court that the State was not seeking to bolster its case by putting her to her defence as it was not in dispute that she was in possession of the gold on the day in question.

Source - The Herald