Senior Court Reporter
Police have testified that charges of attempting to suppress evidence in the cases against Henrietta Rushwaya and her alleged accomplices over her alleged attempt to smuggle 6kg gold out of the country relate solely to statements that could involve businessman Ali Muhamad, and not to any mention of the First Family.
Investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Michael Chibaya, who is the main witness called by the State to support its opposition to the granting of bail to Rushwaya and four of her fellow accused, confirmed under cross-examination yesterday that the alleged deleted material had nothing to do with the First Family, but only involved potential involvement of Ali Muhammed.
One of the five accused now seeking bail, miner Gift Karanda, is being charged with using fake Central Intelligence Organisation credentials on the day of Rushwaya’s arrest in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain her release by trying to claim she was simply a courier for First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and her son Collins.
DCI Chibaya had already testified on Wednesday, under cross examination, that the police saw this alleged attempt as simply a desperate effort in name-dropping to get the criminal investigation dropped, rather than anything based on fact.
But yesterday lawyers representing Stephen Tserayi, a CIO member accused of clearing Rushwaya’s path through the VIP route at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, and Karanda said there were inaccurate Press reports suggesting the CIO was behind “removal of some of the facts that implicated the First Family from the docket”.
Mr Dumisani Mtombeni, representing Karanda, and Mr Admire Rubaya, representing Tserayi, complained about these reports in submissions before Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna. Mr Mtombeni said the reports were false, adding that the defence lawyers had no intentions of scandalising any of the security institutions in the ongoing court proceedings. Karanda and Tserayi are appearing in court along with Rushwaya, Pakistan businessman Ali Mohammed and another CIO operative, Raphios Mufandauya, on allegations of attempting to smuggle 6kg gold to Dubai and other charges associated with this attempt.
However, Mr Nduna said he could not take the submissions on record as he was yet to go through the media reports, leaving Mr Rubaya to continue cross-examining DCI Chibaya over the bail application. In a bid to clear the air on allegedly false media reports, Mr Rubaya questioned DCI Chibaya to clarify on which information was allegedly deleted from the docket. “Confirm that the alleged deletion of the information by Shoko and Chimungu (two senior police officers appearing separately on charges of not arresting Ali Muhamad) was relating to Ali Muhamad and not the First Family as was reported in the Press and that there is no indication of a commercial invoice having been removed from the docket relating to Rushwaya,” said Mr Rubaya.
DCI Chibaya confirmed that what was allegedly deleted from the docket did not relate to the First Family. The bail application continues today with lawyer Mr Joshua Chirambwi, who is representing Mufandauya, cross-examining DCI Chibaya. Mr Mtombeni, representing Karanda, is also expected to cross-examine DCI Chibaya once Mr Chirambwi is done.
Today marks 10 days of Rushwaya staying in remand prison since her arrest on October 26 at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare.
Ali Muhamad, Tserayi and Mufandauya were arrested two days later, and have been in custody since then.