Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A ZIMBABWE Revenue Authority (Zimra) officer who allegedly forged customs documents to facilitate the smuggling of 50 cars into the country, prejudicing the State of US$432 767,54 and $1,4 million in potential revenue, has been denied bail pending trial.
Norest Ushe, who is stationed at Plumtree Border Post, allegedly fraudulently accessed his employer’s data capture system and entered 50 cars that had been smuggled into the country and facilitated their registration.
Ushe appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Shepherd Munjanja facing charges of fraud and criminal abuse of duty as a public official as defined in section 174 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
He was remanded in custody to October 15.
Mr Munjanja ruled that Ushe was not a proper candidate for bail. He said there was no guarantee that if released on bail, Ushe would not abscond given he already has pending cases before the court in Plumtree.
“As a court, the applicant before it is alleged to have committed several cases while there is bail under case CRB492/19 and CR17/06/19 at ZRP Plumtree.
“In that case, he is alleged to have signed a fake temporary permit. I therefore dismiss the bail application by the applicant as he is not a suitable candidate,” ruled the magistrate.
The State, which was represented by Mr Mufaro Mageza, opposed the application, arguing that he was a flight risk and likely to interfere with State witnesses.
Between May 2017 and June this year, Ushe was working at the Zimra private imports section where he was responsible for the clearance of private goods before he was moved to the scanning section.
Mr Mageza said while working at the private imports section, he was issued with a password which enabled him to capture, view and print customs clearances certificates (CCCs) in the Zimra computerised system.
“The SAP profile password which he had until September 26, 2019, was deactivated after allegations of misuse. Between May and September 24 this year, Ushe clandestinely captured into the Zimra system, information of 50 cars smuggled into the country thereby generating an equipment number which if punched would display the particulars of the vehicle and enable printing CCC on the serialised forms at any Zimra station or printing of protected format document on bond paper,” said Mr Mageza.
He said despite Ushe’s redeployment to the scanning section where he was not supposed to capture data into the Zimra system, he allegedly continued capturing data of the smuggled vehicles and facilitated their registration until September 26 when his password was deactivated.
Investigations were conducted and it was established that Ushe fraudulently entered 50 smuggled cars into the Zimra system. The State lost potential revenue of US$432 767,54 for 39 cars and $1 469 791,58 for the other 11 vehicles.
On his arrest, Ushe’s house was searched and six clearance certificates as well as two Zimra date stamps, which he signed for on May 9, 2017 and August 2, 2018, were recovered.
Mr Thamani Ncube of Dube-Banda Nzarayapenga and Partners is representing Ushe. — @mashnets.