Harare – Zimbabwe Miners Federation ZMF) president, Henrieta Rushwaya was on Monday arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare for allegedly attempting to smuggle over six kilograms of gold to Dubai.
Her arrest comes at a time when market watchers have consistently insisted that the country, whose economy is largely anchored on mining and agricultural activities is losing a large chunk of gold through side marketing. Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe last month said the country was losing nearly US$100 million worth of gold illicitly taken out of the country each month.
The Central Bank has been blamed for putting in place unfavourable payment methods for gold proceeds to the country’s official sole buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
Statistics show that gold deliveries to FPR for the current year are lagging behind 2019 blamed on factors such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and inadequate equipment among small scale-miners. Gold deliveries between January and September came in at 14.7 tonnes, 41% lower than the same period last year.
Despite the underwhelming performance, the government remains bullish on achieving its target of 100 tonnes of gold per year by 2023, a figure which is expected to help the mining sector earn US$12 billion annually.
In a tweet, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said “The detectives identified the accused as she commenced check-in processes and immigration formalities. The detectives immediately alerted the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) scanner operators to thoroughly examine the accused’s bag.”
“Gold was detected by the scanner in the accused’s bag which formed part of her hand luggage. The bag was searched in the presence of the accused by CID MFFU detectives whilst other stakeholders at the Airport witnessed the search. A total of approximately 6kg of gold whose value is yet to be determined was recovered stashed in the accused’s personal luggage in her bag”.
According to the police, Rushwaya failed to supply export documents in respect of the gold, thus leading to her arrest. The gold has since been taken to FPR for safekeeping.
“The accused will be taken to Harare Magistrate Court on 27 October 2020,” ZRP said.
In her defence to the police, Ms Rushwaya said she was exporting the gold on behalf of one identified as Ali of number 32 Lanark Road, Alexandra Park, Harare. She indicated that Ali is a licenced gold buyer using the name Ali Japan 786 Private Limited.
ZMF on Tuesday released a statement regarding Rushwaya’s arrest saying the organisation believes in her innocence.
The ZMF press release signed by the Chief Executive Officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha reads as follows:-
“The ZMF has learnt of the arrest of its President Ms Henrietta Rushwaya and is following the case closely. As an organisation, we are aware that every accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. We have had the privilege to hear Ms Rushwaya’s side of the story and believe in her innocence. We anticipate that Ms Rushwaya will be taken to court tomorrow for possible initial appearance as part of due process. In the interim, we remain committed towards executing our mandate and vision as an organisation”.
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