By Fungai Lupande
Veteran radio personality Tichafa Augustine Matambanadzo – known as Tich Mataz – who is accused of trying to smuggle clothes and shoes from China into the country yesterday told the court that he believed his items fell under rebate.
Matambanadzo told the court that he had no intention of evading duty and was ordered to leave with his bags by a ‘certain’ Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) official.
Defending himself yesterday, Matambanadzo told the court that he does not know the name of the official who dismissed him.
“After handing over my declaration form, I was asked to pack my bags and so I did, assuming that everything was sorted,” said Matambanadzo.
“A Zimra official told me that I was free to go and I jovially went home since I was tired. I met four to five officials that day and I had no reason to ask their names. I thought everything was above board. I had no intention of depriving Zimra of their duty.”
During cross-examination, the prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri asked Matambanadzo if it was his first time at the airport.
He confirmed that he was a regular traveller.
“When you went though the green route, you were indicating that you had nothing to declare?” asked Ms Mukumbiri.
Matambanadzo said he normally travels for business and does not bring items for resale.
“I thought I had no goods to declare,” he said.
Ms Mukumbiri asked if it was the correct position that he had no goods to declare and Matambanadzo said it depends with the interaction with Zimra officials.
“What kind of interaction?” asked Ms Mukumbiri, and Matambanadzo said the Zimra official’s discretion.
“Why did you declare five suits yet you had 10?” asked Ms Mukumbiri.
Matambanadzo said he was surprised to hear that since he signed the declaration form under the supervision of the Zimra official.
“Why did you not challenge that in court?” asked Ms Mukumbiri.
“We learn every day. The official counted suits that I went to China with,” replied Matambanadzo.
In her closing submission Ms Mukumbiri told the court that Matambanadzo failed to mention the name of the official who dismissed him because he was lying.
“He failed to declare his personal used clothes because his intention was to smuggle goods in broad daylight,” she said.
“May he be punished accordingly?” Harare magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube will pass judgment today.
Matambanadzo, who is the director of ZiFM is facing charges of contravening the Customs and Exercise Act.
It is alleged that on January 7 this year, Matambanadzo arrived at Harare International Airport on board Kenya Airways from China.
After picking his boxes from the carousels, Matambanadzo allegedly went through the green route.
He was stopped and directed to the red route.
Matambanadzo was asked to complete a declaration form and he complied.
It is alleged that a Zimra official went through Matambanadzo’s stuff and noticed that he had several suits, shirts, track bottoms and shoes.
Matambanadzo was supposed to pay $538,75 in customs duty.The Herald