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Blow for Chiyangwa

by Staff reporter
23 Nov 2016 at 14:35hrs | Views

A Harare magistrate yesterday delivered a hammer blow to the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and its president Philip Chiyangwa - when she set free the association's former chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya and former board member Edzai Kasinauyo - from match-fixing charges to pile pressure on the local football chiefs who have fallen-out with the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

Rushwaya and Kasinauyo were acquitted together with the former Warriors assistant coach Nation Dube in a case which had thrown back Zimbabwe football into the glare of the world, including football-governing body Fifa - which is pulling out all stops to end match-fixing in the sport.

The trio's acquittal came on a day Zifa and Chiyangwa were facing the prospects of having the association's property attached over a $160 000 debt to Daisy Lodge after the service provider applied for a default judgment against the local football-governing body.

The high-profile match-fixing case, which sucked in local Zimbabwean players and foreign-based players including former Zifa coach Ian Gorowa - was seen as one of Chiyangwa's major coups as he bid to erase the bad memories of the Asiagate scandal which engulfed domestic football during the ill-fated reign of Cuthbert Dube.

The collapse of the Zifa case against the trio - coming against a backdrop of a nasty fallout between Chiyangwa and the PSL - could open the flamboyant Harare businessman and his association to serious scrutiny.

It did not help matters yesterday that Harare regional magistrate Lucy Mungwari - drew holes into the match-fixing case before making a scathing attack on the State for bringing to court a case she said "no competent court acting reasonably would convict the accused persons".

"This is one case that should have never seen the entrance of this court. There was lack of seriousness on the part of both State and its witnesses," Mungwari said.

"There was no evidence linking the accused persons to the offence and the law is clear that where there is no evidence, the court has discretion to acquit."

Mungwari discredited the evidence of every State witness and said she could not understand why they had been made to testify since they all professed ignorance on the pertinent issues.

"The evidence of Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe did not assist the State case. He was just overzealous and even adopted investigative functions. This ate into his credibility.

"The court hoped that (Warriors coach) Kalisto Pasuwa would bring forth messages that were at the centre of the dispute but he, however, distanced himself and was reluctant to give evidence. He also said he did not have any incriminating evidence against the accused persons.

"When Jonathan Mashingaidze came, he confirmed that there was nothing untoward with Kasinauyo asking for the players' list. He also said he did not have anything more to offer the court in this case," said the magistrate as she tore into the witnesses that had been lined up by Zifa.

The magistrate emphasised that Leeroy Waguta; the whistleblower's evidence could not be admitted in court because he had confirmed his participation in the match-fixing scam.

"The witness confirmed being a match-fixer and his role in manipulating the game that was before the court. By stating his role, the witness became an accomplice and his evidence ought to be treated with extreme caution," Mungwari said. "…unfortunately for the State, he was their star witness".

Allegations against the trio arose between January and February this year when Rushwaya allegedly connived with Kasinauyo, Gorowa, and Dube to engage in match-fixing targeting the South African Premier League.

Rushwaya and her team, together with Waguta, were allegedly acting in connivance with Chan Sankaran - a popular Asian match-fixer.

Sankaran was also alleged to be the financier.

In February, the accused persons allegedly agreed to fix the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers between Swaziland and Zimbabwe scheduled for March 25 and 28 in Mbambane and Harare, respectively.

The State had claimed they then agreed to offer bribes to Zimbabwe national soccer team players for them to lose the game.

The court heard that they agreed to implement their plan after the announcement of the list of players who were going to play against Swaziland.

Kasinauyo was allegedly tasked to put pressure on Pasuwa to prematurely announce the list of players.

The State had claimed the plot did not materialise because Pasuwa delayed announcing the list. Chiyangwa was then briefed about the scam and a police report was made.

A relieved  Rushwaya yesterday bemoaned loss of time during her trial.

"It was nice doing business with you sekuru, "Rushwaya said to prosecutor Timothy Makoni as she left the courtroom.

"Imagine that we wasted all that time and gave away a lot of money to lawyers, yet there was no case."

Source - dailynews