The name of Zimbabwe’s first lady came up in court papers Friday following the arrest earlier this week of a mining boss for allegedly trying to smuggle gold to Dubai.
The names of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins were allegedly brought up as possible owners of the six kilogrammes (13 pounds) of gold found on Henrietta Rushwaya, who was busted at the main international airport in Harare on Monday.
But the state said the suspects had named the first lady and her son as a ploy to evade arrest.
Rushwaya, leader of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, and six other people including state security officials stationed at the airport have been arrested over the case.
Intelligence operatives at the airport have been accused of helping her evade the standard security checks by whisking her through the diplomatic route.
“Anyone passing through the diplomatic bay is accorded such status which enable one to enjoy immunity from search,” the state said in its papers.
But civil aviation officials intercepted Rushwaya and forced her to go through the normal security checks, when the gold was discovered in her hand luggage.
The names of the first family came up during questioning of the traveler and the intelligence officers that assisted her.
“On discovering that the three had been intercepted, (one of the accused) advised immigration and police officers that the gold… belonged to the first lady”.
The suspects allegedly stated that the president’s son was the one who was supposed to have exported the gold to Dubai.
“The accused said this well knowing that it was not true but only wanted to instill fear and facilitate safe removal of the gold from Zimbabwe,” the state said.
Earlier this week state prosecutor Garudzo Siyadhuma described the case as “a classic example of organized crime because of the manner in which the execution of the offence was carried out”.
“The net of the syndicate is actually wider,” Siyadhuma said during the bail hearing of Rushwaya, who is also a former CEO of the Zimbabwe Football Association.
Her arrest comes as authorities are battling a wave of gold smuggling, amounting to around $100 million a month.