Harare | A judge scheduled to render a decision in Henrietta Rushwaya’s gold smuggling trial last Friday reportedly received a house from the government.
The Chief Secretary to the Head and Cabinet, Martin Rushwaya, is the cousin of the head of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF), and he approved the transaction, according to reports by ZimLive.
Rushwaya was found guilty on November 1st by Justice Pisirayi Kwenda of trying to smuggle 6 kg of gold valued at US$330 000 that was concealed in her purse through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in October 2020.
Rushwaya’s sentencing was scheduled to take place on Friday of last week, but the High Court judge postponed it.
The reason for the postponement was that the judge wanted to hear evidence from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on the potential prejudice the country stood to suffer had Rushwaya succeeded in smuggling out the gold.
ZimLive reported that on that same day, the judge postponed judgement, the government finally approved his US$400 000 “loan”.
The so-called loan is a controversial facility which the treasury manages on directions from the president’s office.
Reports claim that all judges are expected to get loans to buy houses. The payments have been staggered and some judges are yet to get their houses. Said a source:
The confirmation (of the payment) was conveyed to the judge in a way that left no doubt that it was Martin Rushwaya’s intervention that speeded up the process.
The judge’s new house is in the affluent suburb of Chisipite in Harare.
On Tuesday, 14 November, Justice Kwenda again postponed judgement to 2.30 PM on Wednesday after hearing evidence from ZIMRA and RBZ experts who were summoned by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
During cross-examination by Rushwaya’s lawyer Oliver Marwa, all the witnesses said there was no actual prejudice to the state but potential prejudice since the gold was recovered.
Mighty Pavarikanda, who works in the Department of Technical Services, domestic taxes at the ZIMRA head office, said ZIMRA’s royalties were going to be 5% of the value of gold that Rushwaya intended to smuggle to Dubai, which is US$16 652.11.
Pavarikanda also said if it was going to be proved that Rushwaya is a small-scale miner, the potential prejudice would be reduced to US$3 315.42.
Tafadzwa Simon Muvevi from RBZ’s Exchange Control Division said that smuggling has serious effects on the economy including exchange rate instability, and price instability leading to inflation.
Tichafa Chigaba Deputy director of analytics, RBZ Financial Intelligence Unit detailed the effects of smuggling but his submissions were dismissed by Marwa as useless in this case.
Whisper Mabhaudhi, representing the NPA, urged the judge to give Rushwaya a custodial sentence, arguing that a non-custodial sentence would trivialise the offence.
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