By Nyore Madzianike
Under hard cross-examination from a defence lawyer, the investigating officer in the case centred on an alleged attempt by Henrietta Rushwaya to smuggle 6kg of gold, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Chibaya yesterday continued to maintain Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) external relations officer Gift Karanda dropped the name of the First Lady in a bid to save his boss from arrest.
Karanda denied name dropping and through his lawyer, Mr Dumisani Mtombeni, said the allegations were created to scandalise himself and the First Family. Karanda is seeking bail until trial on charges of using fake credentials as a CIO officer and trying to have Rushwaya released on the grounds that she was a courier for gold bars owned by First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa and her son Collins.
Witness statements asserted DCI Chibaya, maintain Karanda did name the First Lady as the owner of the gold. The detective has several times said in his evidence that police regard this name-dropping as simply a lie to get Rushwaya released, rather than anything based on fact.
Karanda said his lawyer had continuously denied ever dropping the name of the First Lady from the time of his arrest and denied doing so when making his warned and cautioned statement recorded by police upon his arrest on October 28 two days after Rushwaya’s arrest.
Asked why Karanda was not instantly arrested on October 26 when he is alleged to have name dropped, Mr Mtombeni accused DCI Chibaya of having no evidence that Karanda even knew that Rushwaya had gold in her bag and said the allegations of name-dropping were based on falsehoods created by enemies of the First Family.
DCI Chibaya maintained there was evidence and that the five accused were operating as a syndicate and that evidence would be presented at the trial.
Mr Mtombeni also quizzed DCI Chibaya on whether he had evidence linking Karanda to people who allegedly switched off the CCTV at the time when Rushwaya is alleged to have attempted to smuggle the 6kg gold.
DCI Chibaya acknowledged that he had no evidence linking Karanda to the people who allegedly switched off the CCTV cameras, but said the section in which all accused were charged under the Gold Trade Act included dealing in gold.
He agreed that Karanda was not seen in CCTV video footage which is alleged to show Rushwaya and two of her fellow accused, CIO officers Stephen Tserai and Raphios Mufandauya passing through to the VIP section at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
The fifth accused of seeking bail in the present hearing is Pakistani businessman Ali Muhamad, a director of Ali Japan 786 whom police are charging as the supplier of gold Rushwaya is alleged to have been smuggling.
Extra-terretrial Investigations have been started in Dubai to ascertain the authenticity of Ali Japan 786. Some of the permits produced before the court were registered in the names of other companies. A gold dealing permit in Ali’s Japan name was applied for by a company known as Flore International Company and police want to establish a link.
On Monday, lawyers representing the five accused are expected to file written submissions on the bail applications of the five accused with the state led by Mr Garudzo Ziyaduma and Mr Charles Muchemwa re-examining DCI Chibaya, who has spent several days giving evidence and being cross-examined as the principal witness in the state’s attempt to deny all five accused bail. The Herald