By Robson Sharuko
A member of a shadowy Asian betting syndicate, which plotted to fix matches in the South African Premiership and is accused by ZIFA of trying to manipulate Zimbabwe’s 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers against Swaziland, allegedly boasted of raking in $2 million in profits for his underworld bosses in just two months.
Another member of the corrupt gang, which allegedly gave Zimbabwe international goalkeeper Washington Arubi a regular dosage of dirty money, including “commitment fees” in the past two months, arrived in South Africa for the grand match-fixing mission, barely 10 weeks after being released from a British prison, where he had been jailed for five years for attempting to fix matches in the Conference League.
The gang also met another Zimbabwe international goalkeeper, George Chigova, to try and corrupt him to influence the outcome of the South African Premiership game between his club, Polokwane City, and Kaizer Chiefs, which ended in a draw with the giant ‘keeper turning on a man-of-the-match performance.
Former Warriors coach Ian Gorowa is said to have been the middleman, who facilitated the contact between Chigova and the match-fixers in a parking lot of a lodge in South Africa, where Polokwane City were camped, ahead of their showdown against the Amakhosi.
Henrietta Rushwaya, the former ZIFA chief executive, was part of that indaba and, as she remained seated in the car in that dark parking lot, Chigova was told not to worry since the person who was in the vehicle was Gorowa’s wife.
Rushwaya, who admits she repeatedly dined and wined with members of the shadowy Asian betting syndicates in South Africa, who were plotting to fix matches in that country’s top-flight league, claims this was all part of an elaborate sting operation aimed at busting the match-fixing gangsters.
She says she was working closely with British anti-corruption consultant Terry Stearns, who was once a member of the crack team at FIFA that was fighting match-fixing around the globe, and has produced a 36-page report, which has exclusively been obtained by The Herald, of her dance with the match-fixers.
Stearns confirms that he provided regular advice to Rushwaya, related to her work with the underworld gang, but says he did not know the motive of her mission and did not participate in any of the operations that she undertook in the past two months.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa has angrily rejected Rushwaya’s defence questioning who gave her the mandate and why she exposed a number of Zimbabwe international footballers to the match-fixers, including getting some of them to be paid money by the underworld syndicate, and discuss the possibility of fixing matches.
Chiyangwa says the fact that neither Rushwaya nor any of the players and participants in the web, including Gorowa, notified authorities about what was happening was a violation of FIFA rules and regulations which clearly say that such events should be reported to the football leaders and the security agents as quickly as possible.
The ZIFA president also said Stearns’ admission that he did not know the motive behind Rushwaya’s adventure clearly shows that “whatever was happening was part of a match-fixing scandal and we have reason, from our interaction with our chief witness who exposed all this dirty stuff, to believe that this was just a corrupt exercise.
“The Terry Stearns statement is very clear that Henrietta was working with Wilson Raj Perumal since December and that we, the football authorities in Zimbabwe and South Africa, were not notified, and the security agents were not advised, confirms our fears that this was just a match-fixing exercise and our chief witness and the documents that we have support all that.
“That we are extremely disappointed that our players were exposed to the dirty money from the match-fixers, the very people who are trying to destroy the integrity of our game, is very concerning and we feel all this is meant to try and confuse us but we can tell you that we are armed with serious documents and we know the true story,” said Chiyangwa.
Rushwaya reveals, in her report, that she was contacted by Perumal in December last year and that is when she hatched her elaborate plan to help nail the match-fixers by gathering “as much empirical evidence as I can”.
“My first task was to go to SA and fix a game between University of Pretoria and Free State (Stars). I advised WP (Wilson Perumal) that I could not finance the trip and I received an email with a ticket from Hre-Jbg (Harare to Johannesburg) on British Airways 31/01/16,” Rushwaya says in her report.
“As part of my upkeep, I was sent US$200 which I collected from Western Union Airport OR Tambo upon arrival. This was supposed to take me till the next day when my (bosses) were expected to arrive and book me at Marslow A. Express.
“I had a lengthy brief with Tatenda Makonese whom I was working with closely on the exercise we were going to embark on. I also coached him on the need to (be) versatile since I was going to refer to him as the following – keeper, coach, player, driver, cousin.”
“At exactly 15.30pm the two men disembarked from a taxi and came straight to me at the lobby. They addressed themselves as Robbie and Roberto. We had dinner and drinks at Marslow. Meanwhile, I had already communicated with Washington Arubi whom I had told that I was out on a mission to ensure that match-fixers would be nabbed and brought to book.
“His role was simply to pretend to dance to the fixers’ demands and get out as much information from them as possible which we would use in the tasks ahead of us. When (Arubi) came to the hotel, he was in the company of Tendai Tanyanyiwa and Leeroy.
“Tendai is a goalkeeper’s coach at the club (University of Pretoria) and Leeroy is Arubi’s friend. We had drinks and WA (Arubi) was introduced as the ‘keeper. We were later joined by two SA girls who had been outsourced by TM (Makonese) to provide entertainment to the fixers.
“WA (Arubi) was promised to join a club in Hungary and was also promised $10 000 per match if he was going to perform as per the expectations. The instruction was he should let in two goals in the first half and (the team) trail by two goals as a final result – 2-0; 3-1; 4-2.”
Rushwaya claimed that while Arubi later attended a meeting with the fixers at a hotel in Pretoria, they had to bring in some impostors, with one posing as Partson Jaure, and the ‘keeper and the fake players received R10 000 as “deposit and commitment fee towards the game”.
“After receiving the money, the (players) came through my room and advised me and I told them to spend the money and not produce the result. The scoreline at half-time was 2-0 in favour of the home team (actually it was 1-0 in favour of the hosts), much to the chagrin of the fixers.
“I did not attend the match, I was in the hotel. When the fixers got back to the hotel, I sent my driver Tom to go and entertain them in the lobby as I was finishing compiling my notes. I later joined the trio (photos supplied) who were downstairs drinking. Roberto was upset that the needed result was not forthcoming. He wanted his R10 000 back from the players.
“His main challenge was that he had lost more than $35k in the exercise and his other colleague had lost about $75k in total. Roberto was so incensed that he started shouting abusive words on top of his voice and he wanted his money back. The players knew the game plan and could not be bothered.
“Roberto was kicking doors in the corridor, shouting at the top of his voice that he wanted his money back and this induced fear in me and my colleague . . . Roberto and his colleague came to my room, he started threatening me that he was going to report me to the police, he also threatened that he was going to report the players to their club.”
Rushwaya says she received $500 through MoneyGram from Chann Sankaran, MoneyGram transfer number WF419, which she kept for her trail purposes.
On her next trip to South Africa, Rushwaya claims that she met Sankaran and that is when Gorowa was allegedly roped in and he briefed the former Warriors’ coach that he wanted to “expose the fixers”.
Again Arubi was involved and, according to Rushwaya, he was given $1 000 commitment fee while an impostor, who came in as a player, was given $500. Rushwaya claims that, once again, the fixers did not succeed and Arubi did not play in the match after picking up an injury in the match against Bidvest Wits which University of Pretoria lost 1-2, with Wits even missing a penalty that the former ZIFA chief executive claims incensed the fixers.
She claims that she sent a WhatApp text message to Arubi “thanking him for his act of bravery than to fall prey to the demands of the fixers (pic 20/02/16, 02.41am sms screen shot).” The fixers, claims Rushwaya, were beginning to doubt her sincerity and appeared to have confidence in Gorowa as they plotted to fix the match between Polokwane City and Kaizer Chiefs.
“As for WP (Perumal), he kept on dreaming about the scorelines and his permutations till the match ended in a 1-1 draw and not in favour of Kaizer Chiefs as they had anticipated (and) to the disappointment of WP, Chann and their sponsors, the ‘keeper (Chigova) was named man-of-the-match.
“At 21:16 pm WP (Perumal) sent me an App message saying ‘I should not call him anymore,’ and I gladly obliged. From that day onwards, I never got any communication from WP and his emissaries.”
Rushwaya claims the three matches that were targeted, which did not produce the desired results for the fixers, were University of Pretoria’s game against Free State Stars (2-2); Bidvest Wits against University Pretoria (2-1 for Wits) and Kaizer Chiefs against Polokwane (1-1). The Herald