Ousted Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Henrietta Rushwaya’s bid for freedom flopped on Wednesday with a High Court judge denying her bail appeal.
Rushwaya, who is charged with unlawful possession of gold and attempted bribery, had challenged her continued detention by Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna, saying he had “grossly misdirected himself.”
But High Court Judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero sided with Nduna and sent the 53-year-old former Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) boss back to remand prison where she awaits trial.
“That cannot be a misdirection. The magistrate also considered the fact that all three appellants were facing multiple offenses. I agree that the cumulative seriousness of those offenses was a relevant factor in assessing the risk of abscondment,” the judge ruled.
“The maximum penalties for smuggling and dealing in possession of gold without a license or permit are five years imprisonment apiece, for bribery the maximum sentence is twenty years imprisonment.
“These are not insubstantial sentences and it was not wrong to find that the fear of incarceration for long periods was highly likely to motivate flight from jurisdiction.”
Rushwaya was arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in October before boarding a flight to Dubai where 6kgs of gold worth US$366,000 was recovered from her bag.
She has admitted ownership of the priced mineral but argues in court that she mistakenly carried the bag in question after mistaking it for a similar one that contained her toiletries.
Rushwaya is jointly charged with a Pakistani businessman Ali Mohamad who is out on bail. Her other co-defendants are Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) operatives Raphios Mufandauya and Steve Tserayi.
Zimbabwe First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa was forced to deny involvement in the smuggling attempt after one of the accused told arresting officers that the gold belonged to her and her son Collins.
“I have no dealings nor involvement with Miss Henrietta Rushwaya of any illegal kind,” Auxillia said in a statement. “If there is any incriminating evidence against me, I challenge the police to present it to the nation without fear or favor.”
“I serve the interests of my nation and I do not engage in illegal narrow-minded pursuits like gold smuggling.” – ZimLive