HARARE – Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Henrietta Rushwaya Rushwaya was Wednesday fined US$5,000 following his recent conviction for trying to smuggle 6kgs of gold to Dubai via Robert Mugabe International Airport in 2020.
Pisirayi Kwenda, sitting at the Harare High Court, gave Rushwaya a suspended 18 months jail term noting that locking her up would make her a hard-core criminal.
Her gold loot valued at US$330,000 was also forfeited to the state.
The judge noted that the offence was well choreographed.
“We will take into account that she has no previous conviction,” said the judge while passing sentence.
“We are satisfied that this offence was planned. There is no evidence to show that this offence was committed as part of an organised crime.”
The judge also said in line with sentencing guidelines, the function of a sentence should not be to remove a productive member of society.
“We are of the view that a non-custodial sentence of a fine will be appropriate.
“She is a first offender and is recognised at law to be entitled to leniency.
“We are also giving weight to the fact that she is in trouble for a smuggling which did not succeed.
“She must be regretting the day she tried to smuggle the gold.”
The judge said, to her disadvantage and during the course of committing the crime, the former ZIFA boss pretended to be VIP and had invoices of a company showing that she intended to sell the gold.
“She was considered, almost mistaken as a VIP at the airport,” said the judge.
He however said Rushwaya has had her punishment meted out already, having spent two months behind bars before she being granted bail in 2020.
He also said Rushwaya also spent two weeks behind bars while awaiting her sentence.
The judge said the embarrassment of being caught while trying to smuggle gold has already tarnished her image and that was punishment in itself.
“She has fallen from grace and in our view, that is punishment.
“She will now be carrying a previous conviction and this will affect her business.
“Having taken into account the cumulative effect of those factors, we therefore see that this court should focus more on future deterrence of the convict and likeminded people,” he said.
Kwenda said at law, the maximum level of fine is US$5,000.
“We believe we are entitled to impose the maximum penalty. The alternative sentence must not exceed five years.
“Therefore, in the result, the sentence imposed on the now accused is; sentenced to pay a fine of US$5,000.
“The accused is sentenced to 18 months in prison wholly suspended on the condition that she pays the fine.”
Rushwaya had pleaded for leniency stating that she has parents and workers who depend on her.
She insisted that she had carried the wrong bag from home and never intended to travel with the gold. ZimLive