Nyore Madzianike, Harare Bureau
The four Zimbabweans facing charges related to the discovery of 6kgs of gold in Henrietta Rushwaya’s hand-baggage as she was trying to leave the country last month have been denied bail on the grounds that the State case against them is strong and they have the means and incentive to abscond.
However, the fifth acused, and only foreigner charged, Pakistani businessman Ali Muhamad was granted $100 000 bail after Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna found he was not a flight risk since the State had a weak case against him, so far just documents stamped with his company name, and he had substantial investments in Zimbabwe.
Muhamad, who is a director of Ali Japan 786 Zimbabwe and says he has investments worth US$50 million in the country, was represented by Mr Robin Tanyanyiwa of Tanyanyiwa, Gapare Attorneys.
However bail was denied to Rushwaya, who had the gold in her bag when this was searched at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, to CIO officers Stephen Tserai and Raphios Mufandauya who arranged for Rushwaya to use the VIP route and helped carry her baggage, and to Gift Karanda who is accused of interfering in the arrest of Rushwaya by using fake CIO credentials. Mr Nduna said the four had taken actions that they would find hard to explain away.
In his bail ruling, Mr Nduna said although Muhamad was a foreigner, he had substantial commercial interests in the country, which worked in his favour when the court was considering granting him bail. Muhamad was not “physically” involved in the movement of the gold and was only implicated by the documents which allegedly had stamps of his company, Ali Japan 786.
The regional magistrate noted that “it is not in dispute that gold was discovered and recovered undeclared” in Rushwaya’s luggage and that Rushwaya, Tserai and Mufandauya had associated themselves in one way or the other with the luggage and the contraband such that for them to extricate themselves from the offence, appears not to be an easy task.
Rushwaya, Muhamad, Tserai, Mufandauya and Karanda are expected back in court on November 27 for routine remand.