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Shock as Henrietta Rushwaya sentencing postponed for a third time

The High Court on Tuesday postponed, yet again (third time), sentencing of Henrietta Rushwaya in a high-profile case in which she was recently convicted of attempting to smuggle six kilogrammes of gold out of the country.

Justice Pasirai Kwenda postponed sentencing to Wednesday after hearing submissions from the Reserve Bank and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority on the enormity and impact of Rushwaya’s foiled crime.

The gold was valued at US$330 000, and Rushwaya was intercepted at the airport trying to whisk it away to Dubai without regulatory export authority.

Tichafa Chigaba, Reserve Bank deputy director responsible for analysis at the apex bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit, told the court gold smuggling was harmful to the economy, causing, among other things, currency volatility, inflation and foreign currency shortages.

An official from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority echoed similar sentiments to the court, saying Rushawaya’s actions could have deprived the state of much-needed revenue, and caused economic harm to the country.

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In mitigation, her lawyers implored the court to relate the sentence to the potential monetary prejudice the state could have suffered had Rushwaya succeeded in smuggling the gold out of the country.

But the state argued the sentence must reflect the seriousness of the offence, which is reportedly rampant in the country, and needed to be tamed.

Rushwaya was caught at the airport with the gold trying to take a flight to Dubai in 2020, but denied she had intended to smuggle out the precious mineral.

Instead, she claimed she had not realised, when caught, that she had picked the wrong bag for the flight.

But the court convicted her on overwhelming evidence, in a trial keenly watched across the country.

However, Rushwaya’s sentencing, postponed thrice, has taken inordinately long. New Ziana