Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
Two Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials who solicited for a $70 000 bribe so they could slash a $900 000 stamp duty have appeared in court. Henry Sithole (31), a revenue officer, and Mercy Masara (48), a revenue supervisor, appeared before Harare magistrate Elijah Makomo. They are facing charges of criminal abuse of duty as public officers and were granted $300 bail each. They will be back in court on November 16.
It is alleged that on June 15 this year, Sithole, in the company of an unidentified colleague, approached Clarion Insurance Company and gave them a letter requesting company records for the calculation of stamp duty. The information was duly submitted within two weeks of receipt of the request.
On August 27, Sithole invited Clarion’s finance manager, Mr Isaac Madzima, to Zimra’s Kurima House offices to discuss the matter. It is alleged Mr Madzima went to the Zimra offices in the company of Clarion’s accountant, Mr Rex Garatidye. They were advised that Clarion owed Zimra $938 194,72. They pleaded with Sithole to have the amount reduced. Sithole is alleged to have offered to assist on the duty reduction before introducing the Clarion duo to Masara.
Sithole and Masara allegedly demanded $70 000 for them to facilitate the slashing of stamp duty to $100 000. The pair demanded a commitment fee of $2 000, with the balance to be paid up by October. The commitment fee was allegedly paid in September by Mr Madzima who was issued with a 2009 Zimra Assessment Form that showed a reduced amount of $4 416.
Sithole and Masara allegedly told the Clarion officials that they would produce similar assessments for 2010 to 2015 upon payment of $18 000. Sithole is alleged to have pestered the pair demanding payment, resulting in Clarion’s group chief executive officer reporting the matter to Zimra’s loss control department. On October 14, Sithole was arrested after receiving $3 000 trap money from Mr Madzima outside Kurima House. Sithole later implicated Masara.