In a significant development, Henrietta Rushwaya, the president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF), has been found guilty of attempting to smuggle 6 kilograms of gold out of Zimbabwe through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in 2020.
The conviction was handed down by High Court judge Justice Pisirayi Kwenda, who remanded Rushwaya in custody until November 10, 2023, when the sentencing will take place.
The charges against Rushwaya stemmed from an incident on October 20, 2020, where she was accused of trying to smuggle gold worth US$333,042.28 out of the country. Rushwaya’s alleged accomplices in the case, two Central Intelligence Organisation operatives named Stephen Tserai and Raphios Mufandauya, were acquitted due to a lack of evidence during the State’s case.
Rushwaya, however, maintained her innocence, claiming that she mistakenly picked up the bag containing the gold in her haste to get to the airport. The incident unfolded when Rushwaya evaded police checkpoints and took the VIP route at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on October 26, 2020. During an X-ray scan of her luggage, a suspicious object was detected, leading to a physical search by a security officer from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.
The search revealed four gold bars, and Rushwaya failed to produce an export permit but presented a commercial invoice and packing list on behalf of Ali Japan 786 (Pvt) Ltd, granting her authorization to transport the gold. The prosecution successfully argued that using such documents for exporting gold was unlawful.
In Zimbabwe, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (Pvt) Ltd is the sole authorized gold exporter, and individuals require a gold dealership license. The proper documentation for gold exports includes a bill of export, Fidelity Printers and Refiners commercial invoice, packing list from Fidelity, CD1 Form, and a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe authorization letter.