Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
MDC-T Mabvuku legislator James Maridadi was yesterday fined $300 by a Beitbridge magistrate following his arrest for shooting videos of customs officials and other travellers at the Beitbridge Border Post.
Maridadi, 48, of Belvedere in Harare was convicted on his own plea of guilty to contravening a section of the Protected Places and Areas Act when he appeared before Beitbridge resident magistrate, Gloria Takundwa.
He was sentenced to four days imprisonment with an option of a fine.
The magistrate also ruled that the two videos which Maridadi had shot using his Samsung S5 cellphone be deleted and that he gets back the phone.
In mitigation Maridadi, who was wearing khaki trousers, a striped white shirt and black shoes said he had wanted to use the videos to lodge a complaint with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on the incompetence of its officers.
He also told the court that he was a church elder and a law abiding citizen.
“I was aware that I was in a protected area but shot the two videos because I wanted to use them in registering a complaint with Zimbabwe Revenue Authority superiors over the shoddy services from the customs officers at the border,” said Maridadi.
Charges are that the legislator went to the border post yesterday at around 1AM in the company of a relative, Natasha Jonga, 24, who wanted to clear a Toyota Fortuner which was bought from Singapore.
They then went through all the processes to facilitate the clearance of the vehicle under the returning residents’ facility.
Jonga was a student at the Free State University in South Africa.
During the processing of the documents, the woman was requested to provide an affidavit from her parents to confirm her residence in the country as per the requirements of the Customs and Excise Act since she doesn’t own any property in the country.
Maridadi then became emotional, threatening Zimra officials who were attending to them with unspecified action.
He then started shooting videos of customs officers and other travellers within the border post and was arrested by alert security personnel who confiscated his cell phone.