Alleged match-fixer spills the beans

HARARE - The whistle-blower in a match-fixing scandal involving former Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) bosses yesterday spilled the beans about how numerous games had been manipulated by the accused persons and soccer-betting cartels for monetary rewards.

Leeroy Kundishora Waguta was testifying in the trial of ex-Zifa bosses Henrietta Rushwaya, Edzai Kasinauyo and Nation Dube who appeared before Harare regional magistrate Lucy Mungwari facing bribery charges.

Waguta said he developed strong ties with Rushwaya during the time that she “dated” former Zimbabwe international Benjani Mwaruwari who had contracted him to manage his properties in South Africa.

“Sometime in January this year, I was contacted by Rushwaya and we met at Maslow Hotel in Sandton. She told me that there were investors who wanted to deal in soccer betting and could assist me better my life as a runner,” Waguta said.

“They wanted to use me to talk to Zimbabwean footballers who had careers in South Africa to influence them to throw matches and lose by a certain line.

“After that meeting, Rushwaya gave me $2 000 for shopping before we convened a series of meetings for other games.”

Waguta said, throughout their communications about fixing matches, Rushwaya would be known as “mothers”, Kasinauyo as “Kasma” while he was to be referred to as Ben.

He said with the engagement of accused persons, matches played between Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars, on January 23 this year, Chippa United against Free State Stars, Polokwane City against Bidvest Wits and many others were fixed.

Waguta’s evidence was that Rushwaya instructed him to distribute money for the targeted players in the relevant matches.

“Rushwaya indicated that compromising footballers who would play in the Africa Cup of Nations fixture against Swaziland would benefit us as it was an opportunity to spread our tentacles to international football matches which, in her view, were more profitable,” Waguta added.

“It was agreed in a meeting held between Rushwaya, an Asian guy identified as “chief”, Kasinauyo and Ian Gorowa that pressure was supposed to be imposed for release of the list of players that would participate in the qualifiers.

The targeted players were going to get $15 000 each while the accused persons would pocket $40 000, respectively.

Waguta further said he would occasionally meet with Kasinauyo bringing him money for other games that had been fixed in the interim.

However, he started confiding in Zimbabwe national team coach Kalisto Pasuwa alerting him about the accused persons’ plans on his matches.

“Pasuwa was like a brother to me, I once lived with him while attending school, I could not leave him in the dark,” he said.

The scandal was unearthed before the games were played and Waguta and the ex-Zifa bosses did not benefit after all, the court heard.

Rushwaya’s lawyer, Simon Mupindu claimed that Waguta was not an honest witness as he had a history of betraying his business partners.

He made reference to a fraud case in which Waguta had allowed an alleged international match-fixer to reside at one of Mwaruwari’s properties behind his back.

However, Waguta responded: “At that time, I was working under Rushwaya’s instructions to have the alleged match-fixer Raj Perumal stay at the premises as he had promised $78 000 for Zimbabwean players to lose to Brazilians in a match.

Kasinauyo’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, claimed his client was in the United Arab Emirates at the time that Waguta claimed they convened a meeting in South Africa.

Nkomo charged at Waguta labelling him an “international match-fixing criminal” sentiments which the magistrate ordered him to retract as they had a serious bearing on the witness’ character.

Allegations against the trio arose between January and February this year when Rushwaya allegedly connived with Kasinauyo, Gorowa, and Dube to fix matches, targeting the South African Premier League.

Rushwaya and her team, together with Waguta were acting in connivance with Chan Sankaran a popular Asian match-fixer. Sankaran was also the financier.

In February, the accused persons agreed to fix the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers between Swaziland and Zimbabwe scheduled for March 25 and 28 in Mbambane and Harare respectively.

They then agreed to offer bribes to Zimbabwe national soccer team players for them to lose the game.

The court heard that they agreed to implement their plan after the announcement of the list of players who were going to play against Swaziland.

Kasinauyo was tasked to put pressure on Pasuwa to prematurely announce the list of players.

The plot did not materialise because Pasuwa delayed announcing the list before the matter ended up being known by Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa and a police report was made.

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