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Rushwaya’s judgement D-day set in airport bribery case; mines federation boss maintains she picked wrong bag

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By Paul Katanda


ZIMBABWE Miners Federation (ZMF) boss Henrietta Rushwaya, accused of attempting to bribe a Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) official Owen Sibanda to let her pass through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe international airport with gold, will know her fate next week Thursday.

Rushwaya has however denied the charges, arguing she did not bribe the Aviation employee since she did not have anything to hide.

Last week, she filed an application for discharge through her lawyer Peter Patisani which was dismissed by Harare magistrate Learnmore Mapiye.

In passing the ruling, the magistrate said although the currency of the alleged bribe was not specified, she has to answer to the evidence given by the witnesses.

Later in her evidence led by her lawyer, Rushwaya told the court she could not have offered anyone any money since she had nothing on her.

“Firstly, l did not possess US$5,000, and l did not offer Owen Sibanda any money since l was not in possession of any.

“Even in Sibanda’s submissions last week, he denied being offered any money, so it is 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,” said Rushwaya.

She went on to tell the court that just when she realised that she had carried the wrong bag, she asked the police to accompany her to her house to collect the correct bag which the police allegedly later collected upon her arrest.

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“l only realised that l was in possession of gold when my bag was put on the scanning machine and l realised I had travelled with the wrong bag.

“l then advised Sibanda and other members around me 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 of the similar bags are at the police station,” she added.

Rushwaya also told the court that witnesses might be lying against her as a result of external forces who might want to tarnish her reputation and to ruin her chances of remaining ZMF president in the upcoming elections.

“My position is a highly contested one and when the incident happened, we were heading towards an election so maybe Sibanda was and still is under the influence of external forces.

“Maybe he is being made to give statements to appease those who are controlling him in an effort to jeopardise my chances of remaining president or he is being malicious,” said Rushwaya.