Pakistani businessman Ali Mohammed, jointly charged with Henrietta Rushwaya and three others for attempting to smuggle gold out of the country, has his passport back for a fortnight’s visit to South Africa after a magistrate accepted his offer to increase his bail by $2 million and the title deeds for a Hatfield property.
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Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna ordered the release of Mohammed’s passport for two weeks and suspended his bail reporting conditions until February 19, while accepting his offer of substantially higher bail and surety.
Through his lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, Mohammed had applied for the release of his passport to attend a meeting aimed at increasing his investment in Zimbabwe.
Granting the application, Mr Nduna said: “It is not in dispute that accused is a multi-million-dollar investor in Zimbabwe.
“It is also not disputed that Zimbabwe is getting difficulties for one reason or the other and whether such reasons are justified or not, to attract meaningful investment.
“The court can take judicial notice of that. Therefore, it will be judicial suicide for the court to remove this component in determination of this application.”
Mr Rubaya, in his application, told the court that Mohammed wanted to attend an investor’s meeting.
“He has engaged with Gregton Consultancy where he is required to visit the Johannesburg-based company for meetings relating to investments and exploration in Mali,” he said.
Mr Rubaya told the court that Mohammed was a businessman of repute and would not to soil his name by evading the jurisdiction of the court.
“Accused is one of the real investors that the New Dispensation managed to convince, through various international meetings, to come and invest in a bid to improve our economy and living conditions of the general populace,” he said.
“The accused intends to meet with other investors with the view of convincing them to partner him in mining and exploration in this country.”
Mr Rubaya said Mohammed’s visit to South Africa was aimed at complementing Government efforts to lure investors into the country.
“It is our considered submission, with respect to those with prosecutorial and arresting powers, that his arrest as an investor is unwarranted, undeserved and counter productive,” he said.
“The arrest of investors like accused destroy the good will that our Government built over the past few years.
“His visit is designed to complement Government efforts as the economy was not spared by Covid-19 effects.”
The State led by Mrs Netsai Mushayabasa opposed the application, saying the court had originally seen it fit for Mohammed to surrender his passport to ensure he attended his trial.
She said the court was aware that he was a foreign investor when it ordered him to surrender the passport, so the circumstances had not changed to warrant its release.