Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Two Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officers stationed at Beitbridge Border Post were yesterday sentenced to six months each with an option of a $700 fine each for criminal abuse of office.
Obert Tafadzwa Charamba (35), a loss control officer; and a supervisor, Stephen Masimuke (50), detained a truck loaded with liquor belonging to Turkey Trading of Bulawayo between December 23, 2014 and January 14 this year even though it had been legally cleared..
Charamba and Masimuke were jointly charged and denied any wrongdoing, but Beitbridge magistrate Mr Innocent Bepura convicted them on the strength of overwhelming evidence.
Charamba was represented by Mr Reason Mutimba of Masawi and Partners, while Mr Marshal Chatsanga of Mangwana and Associates appeared for Masimuke.
Prosecutor Mr Foster Abheki told the court that on December 23 last year, Turkey Trading (Pvt) Ltd of Bulawayo imported a consignment of liquor from South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post.
He said the company then enlisted the services of ASB Freight as their clearing agent to facilitate the legal importation of the liquor, which was done at Zimra Beitbridge under bill of entry number C93285 of December 23 2014.
The truck was then released by other Zimra officials to leave the border and was later intercepted by Charamba and Masimuke, who referred it to the container depot for further physical examination, which was done on the following day and no anomaly was found.
But the two insisted on the truck’s detention without giving any reasons.
The truck and the cargo remained lodged at the depot until January 14 this year, prompting the owners to report the matter to the police and also filed an application against such action at the High Court.
The High Court in turn ordered for the unconditional release of the vehicle under case number HC 16/15.
Investigations by the police established that Charamba and Masimuke did not issue any legal documents (Notice of Seizure and Duty Schedule) as proof that the truck and the cargo were being detained legally at the container depot.
Under normal Customs procedure, an importer is issued with a notice of seizure accompanied by a duty schedule in cases where they have smuggled or underpaid excise or customs duty.
Further investigations revealed that the said consignment was never entered into the Zimra books as having been detained and the two were subsequently arrested.