A HARARE magistrate yesterday refused to bail the controversial leader of the suspended Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF), Henrietta Rushwaya, and three other co-accused — in a case of alleged gold smuggling, the Daily News reports.
At the same time, businessman Ali Mohamad — who is jointly charged with the four — was granted $100 000 bail, with the court saying there was no evidence showing his active participation in the alleged offences.
Rushwaya was arrested last month at the Robert Mugabe International Airport as she was due to fly to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, when airport security scanners flagged her hand luggage — which was said to be concealing 6kg of gold worth nearly US$400 000.
After a lengthy bail hearing of nearly two weeks, yesterday magistrate Ngoni Nduna denied Rushwaya bail together with Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives Steven Tserayi and Raphios Mufandauya, as well as one Gift Karanda.
Rushwaya, Tserayi, Mufandauya and Karanda said they would appeal to the High Court against the denial of bail, while the State said it would challenge Mohamad’s release.
“The accused persons are facing a number of counts each and the cumulative seriousness of those offences cannot be understated,” Nduna said in the bail ruling.
He said it would be difficult for the four who were denied bail to wish themselves away from the alleged offences.
“Rushwaya, Tserayi and Mufandauya associated themselves in one way or the other with the luggage and contraband, such that for them to extricate themselves from the offence appears not to be an easy task,” he ruled.
Mohamad, through his lawyer Tinashe Tanyanyiwa Snr, had denied any involvement in the alleged offence — adding that he was nowhere near the airport when Rushwaya was arrested about three weeks ago.
He also said Mohamad had invested more than US$50 million in the country, which he could not abandon.
In his ruling on Mohamad, Nduna said the businessman appeared to be the only accused person not linked to the charges, making the State case against him weak.
“Mohamad, in the court’s view, seems to be on a different pedestal in this respect. His involvement is on the basis of the alleged incrimination by Rushwaya.
“Mohamad appears to be the only person in the chain of events who did not personally do anything that links him to the charges.
“Those developments render the State case against him very weak,” Nduna said as he granted him bail.
In denying Rushwaya and the other three bail, Nduna said there was a possibility that they could abscond because they had connections outside the country.
“It is admitted that Rushwaya was arrested en route to Dubai. She could not have been carrying 6kg of gold to that country without connections there.
“That significant amount of gold equally makes the accused person a person of substantial means by whatever standards.
“Tserayi, Mufandauya and Karanda are alleged to be closely connected to Rushwaya. Her connections can easily be their connections.
“I hold, therefore, that Rushwaya, Tserayi, Mufandauya and Karanda are capable of skipping this jurisdiction and abscond trial,” Nduna said.