In a surprising turn of events, Henrietta Rushwaya, convicted of attempting to smuggle 6kg of gold, might face a more lenient sentence than anticipated. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has recently stated that the state would have only incurred a loss of US$3,300 if Rushwaya’s 2020 smuggling attempt had succeeded.
Rushwaya, the president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, was arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport with gold worth US$333,000 hidden in her handbag. The incident, which has drawn significant public attention, was slated for sentencing last Friday. However, Justice Pisirayi Kwenda deferred the decision to November 14 to consider ZIMRA’s evidence on the potential state losses.
Currently held in custody after her bail was revoked, Rushwaya’s defense claims the incident was a mistake, involving her accidentally picking a similar bag containing the gold. ZIMRA’s revelation that small-scale miners’ gold attracts only 1 percent royalty challenges the severity of the crime, potentially influencing the court’s decision.
The case’s outcome is eagerly awaited, especially considering Rushwaya’s alleged familial ties to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, amidst accusations of the government’s inadequate response to corruption. This case is particularly sensitive in light of Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe’s 2020 statement that Zimbabwe loses about US$100 million worth of gold monthly due to smuggling.
With two of her co-accused already acquitted due to insufficient evidence, all eyes are on the High Court as it determines Rushwaya’s fate. The decision could not only shape legal precedents but also public perception of corruption and justice in Zimbabwe.