Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The trial of three Beitbridge men, among them two customs clearing agents and a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority employee recently arrested for allegedly defrauding a car dealer of US$6600 in import duty last year has been set for February 18.
Allen Nyoni (23), Kudakwashe Zowa (32) both customs clearing agents and Henry Phiri (43) a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority customs officer denied the charges of fraud when they appeared before Beitbridge Resident magistrate Toyendepi Zhou yesterday.
The trio was arrested as part of the ongoing crackdown by Zimra on the dozens of dealers who last year smuggled or under-declared over 500 vehicles imported into the country mainly of pre-owned vehicles last year.
Nyoni and Zowa were remanded out of custody on a $5000 bail pending trial, while Phiri was remanded in custody to the trial date.
Prosecuting, Manyonga Kuvarega told the court on 29 June last year, Nyoni was contracted by a car dealer (whose name was not stated in court papers) to facilitate the customs clearance and importation of three vehicles from South Africa via Beitbridge Border Post.
He said among the motor vehicles were two Toyota Alphard and one Honda Fit from South Africa.
The court further heard that Nyoni then sought the services of Zowa to speed up the processes.
Kuvarega said the vehicles’ combined import duty was calculated as US$6600, which was paid in full to the accused persons by the importer.
The state said, after which, Zowa approached the Zimra officer (Phiri) to process the Certificate of Customs Clearance commonly known as CCC.
Instead of capturing the vehicle details in the Zimra system, the prosecutor further alleged that Phiri colluded with the two to produce fake CCC for the vehicles.
Further allegations are that the three vehicles were later released from Zimra on the strength of the fraudulent clearance documents.
Kuvarega said the trio then converted the import duty money to their own use and the issue came to light during a Zimra audit programme when the concerned motor vehicles were enlisted for forfeiture for violating customs regulations.
The car dealer then reported the matter to police in Harare resulting
in the three men’s subsequent arrest.
However, US$6600 was not recovered.