Rushwaya’s co-accused seek freedom
TWO suspects jointly charged with suspended Zimbabwe Miners Federation boss Henrietta Rushwaya for allegedly attempting to smuggle gold out of the country have approached the court seeking bail on changed circumstances.
Gift Karanda and Stephen Tserai were arrested together with Rushwaya when she allegedly attempted to board a Dubai-bound plane at RGM International Airport with 6kg of gold worth close to US$400 000 in her hand luggage last October.
Karanda and Tserai, a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation, have been languishing in remand prison since their arrest last year, while Rushwaya was granted $100 000 bail last week. The duo was initially denied bail by the magistrates’ court and their appeals were also turned down by the High Court.
Yesterday, through their lawyers, Karanda and Tserai approached the lower court with another bid for bail on changed circumstances. The two claim the current Covid-19 national lockdown will make it impossible for them to flee from justice as movement is restricted.
“Applicant states that the police have had sufficient time to investigate the cases against him while he was in custody. “Applicant is reliably informed that investigations in all the matters against him have been completed and all the witness statements have been recorded.
“The relevant effects of the strict lockdown measures are that they severely curtail both government and private business. “Our courts are no exception. Chances of the accused’s trial kicking off in the near future are very slim if at all they are…no purpose will surely be served by continuing to keep the accused in custody in these circumstances,” Karanda’s lawyer, Tungamirai Chakurira submitted.
Tserai’s lawyer, Admire Rubaya, argued the investigations into Rushwaya’s defence clearly exonerated him from having knowledge of the gold.
“The applicant has learnt that the police have since investigated the alleged chief perpetrator (Henrietta)’s defence that she mistakenly took the wrong bag on the 9th of October 2020. “The State has since recorded statements from all their relevant witnesses.
“This clearly exonerates the accused that he had no knowledge of what was in Henrietta’s bag,” Rubaya argued.
Meanwhile, police officers Douglas Shoko and Paul Chimungu who are accused of freeing businessman Ali Mohammed, who is the alleged owner of the gold, and altering the docket, are also seeking their freedom.