Victor Maphosa / Prosper Dembedza, Harare Bureau
Former Principal Director State Residences in the Office of The President and Cabinet, Douglas Tapfuma, allegedly abused his office to facilitate the importation of more than 80 vehicles without paying duty, a court heard yesterday.
Tapfuma (53) who was arrested this week as part of the ongoing anti-corruption blitz by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, yesterday faced three counts of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer involving seven vehicles when he appeared before Harare Regional Magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya but in opposing bail, the State said he was being investigated for importing 76 more cars using the same method.
He was remanded in custody to August 15.
Tapfuma who was represented by a legal team led by Harare lawyer, Vincent Matatu, failed to persuade the courts to grant him bail.
In their application, Tapfuma’s legal team argued that there was no evidence that their client benefited from the seven vehicles and that he used them for personal gains.
They also argued that their client was of fixed abode, who is also a senior Government official and there was no evidence or proof that he will interfere with the investigations.
In opposing bail the state represented by Mr Charles Muchemwa argued that Tapfuma was a flight risk due to the nature of the offence he was facing.
He said Tapfuma was also being investigated on another issue whereby he allegedly used the same modus operandi but connived with other accomplices to illegally import 76 double cab Isuzu vehicles.
In his bail ruling, Magistrate Mujaya said Tapfuma was not a proper candidate for bail.
“Due to the predicament he (Tapfuma) finds himself in as a senior Government official, makes him a flight risk,” he said.
Allegations are that on April 10, 2018, Tapfuma allegedly imported two personal mini buses from South Africa under the guise that they belonged to the Government. The buses’ chassis numbers are KDH225-0001125 and KDH 225-0002048.
On April 17, 2018, Tapfuma allegedly assigned Bonani Ganyane, an officer working in the transport section of the department of State Residences to proceed to Beitbridge and facilitate clearance of the two vehicles on behalf of the department using report order forms as if they were Government vehicles.
It is the State case that clearance of goods by report order form is a clearance procedure that is normally used by Government departments to apply for deferred clearance of goods from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
Ganyane allegedly proceeded to Beitbridge and provisionally cleared the vehicles using report order forms. After clearing the alleged vehicles Ganyane advised Tapfuma who instructed him to hand over the vehicles to Vongaishe Mupereri who at that time was House of Assembly Member for Mbizo Constituency.
The court heard that on April 20, 2018, Tapfuma made an application to the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet requesting for duty free certificates in the name of President’s Department and they were issued.
Tapfuma allegedly applied for duty exemption for the vehicles at Zimra which was granted. He then registered the vehicles at Central Vehicles Registry under the name of the President’s Department and started using the vehicles for his personal use.
The alleged vehicles were liable to a duty of US$3 180.
The court heard that on count two Tapfuma imported another batch of three personal vehicles on June 2018 from South Africa.
It is alleged that during the same month Tapfuma assigned Cousin Gwanyanya who was acting Transport Manager in the Department of State Residences to clear the vehicles at Zimra, Beitbridge. Tapfuma allegedly gave Gwanyanya written requests on official Department of State Residences letterhead addressed to Zimra regional manager authorising him to clear Tapfuma’s personal vehicles while under the name of the Department of State Residences.
The court heard that Gwanyanya provisionally cleared the vehicles in Beitbridge and delivered them to Tapfuma at State House. It is alleged that Tapfuma made an application to the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet requesting for duty free certificates purporting that the vehicles belonged to Government.
The duty free certificates were allegedly issued and Tapfuma applied for duty exemption for the three vehicles at Zimra which was granted.
He went on to register them at Central Vehicle Registry under the name of the President’s Department and started using them for personal use. The vehicles were supposed to pay duty of US$4 340.
On the third count, which occurred on August 13 2018 Tapfuma allegedly imported a batch of two personal vehicles from South Africa.
The court heard Tapfuma used the above modus operandi to clear and register the vehicles and was supposed to pay US$4 416 as duty.