The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Rushwaya fined US$5 000

- Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter

ZIMBABWE Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya was yesterday fined US$5 000 for trying to smuggle 6kg of gold to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The gold worth more than US$333 000 was forfeited to the State.

Following the new sentencing guidelines Justice Pisirayi Kwenda said Rushwaya benefited from several factors that moved the sentence away from the presumptiv­e two-year jail term, including the significan­t loss of her gold, the lack of success in the smuggling, and being an “elderly” woman offender whose business reputation was severely damaged.

The sentencing of Rushwaya comes after the Anti-Corruption Court in the High Court held a pre-sentencing hearing in terms of the new sentencing guidelines, which require evidence on the prejudice suffered.

Besides confiscati­ng the gold, Justice Kwenda slapped Rushwaya with a US$5 000 fine, failure of which she will serve an alternativ­e one-year imprisonme­nt. In addition, Rushwaya was sentenced to 18 months in prison wholly suspended for three years on condition she does not commit a similar offence, within that period.

But the main penalty was the order by the judge that the four bars of pure gold which Rushwaya was found in possession of be forfeited to the State.

After the judge pronounced the sentence, Rushwaya’s lawyer Mr Oliver Marwa successful­ly applied for an extension of time to pay the fine by tomorrow.

The judge took into account pre-sentencing statements made by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and Zimra on the financial and economic consequenc­es of the offence on the victims and the state at large, plus her mitigating circumstan­ces.

“The accused is an elderly first offender. She is a businesswo­man and highly regarded before her conviction to the extent that she received the recognitio­n of the status of VIP,” said Justice Kwenda.

“She has fallen from grace. The conviction will hound her for the rest of her life. She is discredite­d in business circles. We have no doubt she regrets her ill-advised criminal conduct. That inevitable anguish which naturally flows from such regret is punishment on its own. It will never be business as usual.”

Justice Kwenda said Rushwaya did not succeed in her attempt to smuggle the gold. The objective of a sentencing court was “to rehabilita­te and punish a convicted offender to the extent and in such a manner that is just and proportion­ate”.

The judge said the rehabilita­tion was aimed at promoting a sense of responsibi­lity on the part of the offender and providing for opportunit­ies to assist in his or her rehabilita­tion as a productive and a law-abiding member of society.

“The focus on sentencing should be aimed at discouragi­ng the offender from reoffendin­g in future and deterring the like-minded persons from engaging in criminal conduct,” said Justice Kwenda.

The new sentencing guidelines provide for special categories of offenders and female offenders are considered for lenience.

Rushwaya seemed to have also benefited from the clause that stipulates that imprisonme­nt in respect of female offenders should only be considered where the offender has been convicted of an offence which is serious or violent or where the she is jointly convicted with a male offender and there is nothing to show that the male offender was the dominant partner.

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