By Mashudu Netsianda
A PLUMTREE-based Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) official 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 released on $5 000 bail.
Norest Ushe of Zimra Cottages in the border town fraudulently accessed his employer’s data capture system and entered 50 cars that had been smuggled into the country and facilitated their registration.
Ushe, who is 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, was granted bail by Harare High Court judge Justice Davison Foroma.
The ruling by Justice Foroma followed an application for bail by Ushe through his lawyer Mr Tanaka Muganyi of Tanaka Law Chambers, citing the State as a respondent.
“The appellant be and hereby admitted to bail pending trial in CRB number BYO P3303/19 on condition that he pays the sum of $5 000 to the clerk of court, Bulawayo magistrate’s court,” ruled the judge.
Ushe was ordered to surrender his passport to the clerk of court in Bulawayo and to report twice a week at Kwekwe Central Police Station.
He was also ordered not to interfere with State witnesses and continue residing at his given address until the matter is finalised.
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.
According to court papers, while working at the private imports section, Ushe 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.
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. The Chronicle