Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THREE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials stationed at Beitbridge Border post have been arrested for allegedly facilitating the smuggling of 176 000 litres of unleaded petrol from South Africa worth about US$84 000 in import duty.
Fananidzai Maramba (33), Takunda Nyambi (40) and Kudakwashe Tinonetsana (33) were arrested when the Zimra anti-smuggling team intercepted four tankers laden with fuel they had allegedly allowed to pass through the border without paying duty,
The smuggling of fuel (especially petrol) falsely declared as paraffin, bulk cooking oil or soya oil to evade paying import duty is now common at the country’s busiest inland port prompting authorities to tighten screws on the movement of commercial cargo.
A total of 13 tankers have been intercepted at the border post during the past six weeks.
Maramba, Nyambi and Tinonetsana were arrested on December 7 at around 8PM.
The freight forwarder they had connived with, Tichaona Moyo, fled when he realised they had been busted and is still at large.
The trio was not asked to plead to charges of criminal abuse of office when they appeared before Beitbridge Resident Magistrate, Mr Toyindepi Zhou yesterday.
They were all remanded to January 17 on $15 000 bail each.
The State led by Mr Ronald Mugwagwa alleges that on December 7 at around 2PM, the trio reported for duty on the imports commercial section.
Maramba and Nyambi were deployed to the commercial imports scan point while Tinonetsana was stationed at the last man where trucks are checked for compliance before exiting the border.
The court further heard that among other duties, the accused persons receive customs imports documents including Bills of Entries on all commercial cargo and verify their authenticity in the Zimra online clearance system.
However, at around 7PM, four Bakers Tankers carrying unleaded petrol arrived from South Africa being cleared by Moyo.
The accused persons are alleged to have hatched a plan to facilitate the importation of the fuel using fake customs documents.
Mr Mugwagwa alleges that when Moyo handed over the fake documents to Maramba and Nyambi at the scanning, they processed them manually instead of using the online facility as required.
Moyo again tendered the documents to Tinonetsana who allegedly used the same method to give the tankers the green light to leave the border.
The State alleges the tankers were intercepted by alert members of the Zimra anti-smuggling unit while about to leave the border post.
The documents were then verified online and it was proved that they were fake, further investigations also revealed that the trio had not used the online method to process fuel clearance.
A report was then made to the police leading to their arrest and seizure of the tankers and fuel.
Each tanker was carrying an average of 40 000 litres worth over US$20 000 in import duty. — @tupeyo