Limpopogate trial takes off

Source: Limpopogate trial takes off | The Herald September 27, 2016

Tendai Rupapa: Senior Court Reporter

The trial of former zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya and her two alleged accomplices, who are accused of organising the “Limpopogate” match-fixing scandal commenced yesterday, with the trio denying the charges. They argued that the charges were fabricated in a bid to “fix” them. Rushwaya is jointly charged with former zifa board member Edzai Kasinauyo and axed Warriors assistant coach Nation Dube.The former zifa boss claimed that another former zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, was implicating her because there was bad blood between them. On the other hand, Kasinauyo submitted that the charges were framed by people who did not want him to be at zifa as a professional.

The trio is represented by Messrs Simon Mupindu, Harrison Nkomo and Simon Simango.

The State, led by Mr Simbarashe Makoni with the assistance of Ms Chipo Matambo, called its first witness Maxwell Takaendesa, the former zifa technical director who testified against the trio.

Takaendesa told the court that basing from the messages he was shown by the Warriors coach Calisto Pasuwa in which he was communicating with the “whistle blower” Leeroy Kundishora Waguta, Rushwaya was the mastermind.

He said if the players had agreed to the plan, they were going to be paid $15 000 each, while the accused persons were to pocket $40 000 each per game.

“I reported the case to the President’s office after reporting it to Mr Mashingaidze. I did so because I was safeguarding the nation’s interests,” he said.

“When I calculated the money they were each (accused persons) going to receive, I discovered that it was close to half a million. That is why I decided to approach the President’s office,” he said.

He added that he did not know Waguta and that his evidence was based on the WhatsApp messages, which were forwarded to Pasuwa by Waguta.

“I believed the messages and that is why I reported the matter to my superiors,” he said.

However, during cross-examination, Rushwaya’s lawyer Mr Mupindu produced screenshots of manufactured WhatsApp chats purporting to be between Waguta and a zifa official.

He said he wanted to prove to the court that messages can be manipulated.

“I put it to you that these charges were a ploy by Waguta and other zifa officials to have the accused persons arrested, would you dispute it? These messages were created and I have just proved to the court that it is possible,” he said.

He asked: “Besides the messages, what other evidence do you have against Rushwaya linking her to the offence and also that I have shown you that messages can be tampered with, can the honourable court rely on that?”

In response, Takaendesa said besides the messages, he had no other evidence.

Takaendesa was also cross-examined by Kasinauyo’s lawyer, Mr Nkomo who produced a copy of Kasinauyo’s passport, which showed that he was in Dubai during the time he is alleged to have been in Sandton, South Africa holding meetings with the other suspects.

Takaendesa said he could not dispute nor confirm that Kasinauyo was in Dubai adding that his evidence was only centred on the messages.

Mr Nkomo added that according to zifa structures, Kasinauyo had the right to know the names of the national team, a submission which Takaendesa did not dispute.

“Because you lost your job at zifa, you are now being spiteful to fix the accused persons,” he said.

In response, Takaendesa said his emotions were towards his former employers not the accused persons whom he said were his colleagues.

Dube, through his lawyer Mr Simango challenged the State to prove how he was connected to the offence.

He argued that he was never approached by anyone or tasked to leak the national team list and distributing money to players.

Magistrate Ms Lucy Mungwari remanded the matter to October 5 for trial continuation.

Pasuwa, Mashingaidze and Warriors goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva are some of the State witnesses.

Allegations are that between January and February this year, Rushwaya, working in cahoots with Kasinauyo, former Wariors coach Ian Gorowa and Dube, was involved in acts of soccer match-fixing targeting the South African Premier Soccer League teams.