Police to arrest Asiagate cheats

HARARE - Zimbabwe's law enforcement agents have moved a step closer to laying criminal charges against football players and officials found guilty last week of match-fixing, it emerged yesterday.   

Fresh from being slapped with life and lengthy bans from all football activities, players and officials fingered in the biggest scam ever to rock Zimbabwean football now face bribery and fraud charges after being found guilty of match-fixing by an Independent Ethics Committee led by retired Supreme Court Judge Ahmed Ebrahim.

Meanwhile, a police spokesperson yesterday confirmed to the Daily News that investigations based on the probe report submitted to them by Zifa are underway.

“As it is, investigations have already started based on a report submitted to us by Zifa. I am not in a position to disclose those who will be arrested as the investigations are still underway,” said Charity Charamba, the police chief national spokesperson.

“What I am at liberty to say however, is that as we all know, when one commits a crime the arm of the law catches up with them and this case is not an exception.”

Charamba said although the case has been covered extensively in the media, the reports would not affect police investigations.

“The media has been awash with reports on this scandal but what I can assure you is that police investigations will not be affected by these reports.

As the police we are digging to ensure justice prevails,” she said.

The Daily News established yesterday that under the country’s law, individuals found guilty of match fixing will be charged under Bribery Law while Monomotapa Football Club, which masqueraded as the Zimbabwe national team on a tour of Malaysia in 2009, will face fraud charges.

This comes days after Sports minister David Coltart called on the police to act on the cheats, who received different amounts of money to throw away matches in action described as treasonous by many.

Bribery falls under the country’s Section 17.2 while fraud comes under Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act (Chapter 9-23).

“Fixing matches is a criminal offence which falls under bribery under the laws of the country, and it involves two parts – those who pay the dirty money, that is the betting syndicate and their local point persons, and the beneficiaries,” a source told the Daily News yesterday.

“Then there is disguising yourself into somebody for improper monetary benefits, which Monototapa Football Club did with the blessings of some Zifa officials. That is an extreme case of fraud.”

Sources said charges will be laid as soon as the current match-fixing related charges against former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya is complete.

Rushwaya is currently being charged with “corruptly concealing information from a principle” which emanated from the Warriors’ unsanctioned trips to Asia between 2007 and 2009.

On completion of her current charges, the feisty former Zifa boss will then face bribery and fraud alongside other accomplices who include former Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa and former national side captain Method Mwanjali, amongst others.

“Why she is singled out in this particular case is that she did it alone, she was the one who was supposed to notify her bosses, the Zifa board, of the trips, which she did not.”

Sources however said “powerful forces” were bent on frustrating the trial in a bid to delay justice.

Last month, Rushwaya’s legal team successfully applied for the postponement of the hearing from September 12 to yesterday, arguing that lawyer Jonathan Samkange would be out of the country.

Rushwaya’ team then filed a High Court application to dismiss the case arguing, among other things, that her charges did not divulge an offence.

The case was yesterday postponed to today after Magistrate Estere Chivasa dismissed an application to have it deferred further to December 13.  

Players slammed with life bans from football are former captain Method Mwanjali, now with Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, former CAPS United goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda, Dynamos defender Guthrie Zhokinyi, Kaizer Chiefs defender Thomas Sweswe and former Zimbabwe Saints midfielder Danisa Phiri.

Other affected individuals are Rushwaya, former Zifa programmes officer Jonathan Musavengana, football agent Kudzai Shaba as well as journalists Robson Sharuko and Hope Chizuzu.

The players, according to the probe report, dragged their teammates along as they assumed a central role in the corruption in which they were paid to lose matches.

The bans will effectively banish them from football forever.

 Monomotapa Football Club’s future also hangs in the balance following reports that owner Solomon Mugavazi stands to be served with a five-year ban from football over his role in the Asiagate match fixing scandal.

At an Interpol (an intergovernmental organisation facilitating international police corporation) facilitated workshop last year, Interpol pledged to fund Asiagate investigations in a bid to eliminate match-fixing on the continent.

Interpol will be resourced to the tune of $28 million in the next 10 years by Fifa to combat global match-fixing.

Zifa appealed for Interpol assistance financially since this investigation was the first of its kind in Africa.

At the moment, a whistle blowers’ programme has been set up across the world to warn Interpol of suspicions movements and irregular betting patterns. - Ndakaziva Majaka and Enock Muchinjo

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