Judge Receives $400k House Ahead of Henrietta Rushwaya’s Sentencing
The judge presiding over Henrietta Rushwaya’s gold smuggling trial, Justice Pisirayi Kwenda, was granted a house by the government just last Friday, Zimlive reports.
The revelation comes amid allegations that the transaction was greenlit by Chief Cabinet Secretary Martin Rushwaya, who happens to be the cousin of the president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation.
Justice Kwenda was originally scheduled to deliver the sentencing in Rushwaya’s case on Friday, following her conviction on November 1 for attempting to leave the country with 6kg of gold worth US$330,000 concealed in her handbag at RGM International Airport in October 2020.
However, sentencing was postponed as the judge expressed his intention to hear evidence from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) regarding the potential harm to the country had Rushwaya successfully smuggled out the gold.
ZimLive has received information that on the same day Justice Kwenda postponed the judgment, the government approved a “loan” of US$400,000 for the judge. This controversial facility, managed by the treasury under the president’s office, is reportedly extended to all judges to facilitate the purchase of houses. Payments are said to be staggered, with some judges still awaiting their houses.
According to a source familiar with the transaction, the judge’s confirmation of payment left no doubt that Martin Rushwaya’s intervention expedited the process. The newly acquired house is located in the affluent suburb of Chisipite.
In a subsequent hearing on Tuesday, Justice Kwenda once again delayed the judgment until 2:30 PM on Wednesday. The decision followed the presentation of evidence from ZIMRA and RBZ experts called by the National Prosecuting Authority, represented by Whisper Mabhaudhi.
During cross-examination by Rushwaya’s lawyer, Oliver Marwa, witnesses stated that there was no actual prejudice to the state, emphasizing that Rushwaya had been intercepted at the airport’s X-Ray machine, and the gold was successfully recovered.
Despite arguments from Mabhaudhi urging the judge to impose a custodial sentence, citing the seriousness of the offense, concerns have arisen that the relatively small potential prejudice, as indicated by ZIMRA, may result in leniency for Rushwaya.
The case has also taken on political dimensions, with allies of President Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly accusing Justice Kwenda of taking instructions from Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, adding a layer of complexity to the already controversial trial.