Rushwaya put to her defence, airport bribery verdict on August 11

HARARE – A court on Monday dismissed an application by Zimbabwe Miners Federation boss Henrietta Rushwaya for discharge at the end of the state case in her trial for bribery.

Magistrate Learnmore Mapiye put Rushwaya to her defence on charges that she attempted to bribe an airport official with US$5,000 after she was found with 6kgs of gold in her handbag.

Rushwaya took the witness stand in her defence, pleading her innocence.

“Firstly, I didn’t possess 5,000. I did not offer Sibanda any money as I was not in possession of anything, ” Rushwaya testified.

“Even in Sibanda’s submissions last week, he denied being offered any money so it’s a bit confusing that the State is saying that Sibanda was allegedly offered US dollars when he himself stated that he was not offered any money in any form.”

Rushwaya was arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare on October 26, 2020, with the gold worth US$330,000.

Prosecutors decided to split her charges by first throwing the bribery charge at her. If convicted, this would be a blow to the former Zimbabwe Football Association CEO as a guilty verdict would be almost assured in her smuggling trial.

Rushwaya maintained her claim that she had taken the wrong bag to the airport as she raced to catch an Emirates flight to Dubai. She denies trying to bribe Owen Sibanda, who was operating the X-Ray machine, after it detected the gold.

“l only realised that l was in possession of gold when my bag was put through the scanning machine and l realised I had travelled with the wrong bag,” she told court.

“l then advised Sibanda and other airport staffers who were present that l had taken the wrong bag and if the police would accompany me to my house to pick up the correct bag, but unfortunately l got arrested.

“As we speak both bags, which are similar, are at the police station.”

She maintained that her arrest was instigated by unnamed individuals who wanted to oust her as president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation.

Magistrate Mapiye will deliver judgement on August 11.

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