By Nyore Madzianike
Velvet Petroleum and Liquid Cargo have been sucked into the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service’s $1,2 million fuel scam, which has resulted in the arrest of former correctional services’ spokesperson, Elizabeth Banda, and Glow Trading Company supervisor Raymond Mazodze sometime in October last year.
The two companies are expected to appear in court today in connection with the same allegations, as investigations into the matter are still under way.
Banda and Mazodze have since appeared in court charged with fraud.
Prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa said this yesterday while opposing Banda’s application for refusal of further remand.
He said investigations into the matter were almost complete.
“Progress has been made in the investigations and the State is not just paying lip service, as police are doing their job. There is no inordinate delay in giving them their trial date since we are barely three months following their arrest,” he said.
“They came to court on October 8. This is a complex matter and the police did not arrest them to investigate. This is the reason why the defence counsel did not challenge their placement on remand.
“To prove that this is a complex matter, there is a company called Blue Agric Marondera which was allocated fuel and it (fuel) went through five other hands before it reached that company. That proves the matter is a complex one.”
Speaking through her lawyer Mr Tinofara Hove, Banda applied for refusal of further remand saying the State should summon her to court after completing all its investigations.
She said it appeared as if the State had arrested her to allow investigations to take place.
“Investigations are still in their infancy and we believe there are 20 to 30 witnesses to be called. We also believe there are three to four co-accused which are to be jointly charged with accused in this case and we have been notified of this.
“In essence, what happened is that police got excited and arrested the accused before they investigated. They are now investigating when the accused is on remand,” said Mr Hove.
Mazodze, through his lawyer, also made the same application saying he would not abscond and would avail himself if summoned back to court.
He said he wanted to clear his name after the matter was reported by the media.
“His business and name have been affected and he is keen to clear his name. He is not a flight risk as he has been religiously attending court and reporting to the police as part of his bail conditions,” he said.
Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa dismissed Banda and Mazodze’s applications before deferring the matter to February 12 for their routine remand.
Circumstances leading to the duo’s arrest are that sometime in July 2017, Banda and Mazodze hatched a plan to evade paying duty on fuel imported from South Africa.
In August 2017, Mazodze representing Glow, which was purported to be registered in South Africa, approached ZPCS offering a donation of four million litres of diesel.
The fuel was said to be in South Africa, prompting ZPCS to engage the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs requesting a duty-free certificate for the four million litres, which was issued by ZIMRA.
The certificate was handed over to Mazodze to facilitate importation of the fuel. It is alleged that from May 2017 to August 2018, Mazodze connived with Banda and drew a total of 1 130 500 litres of diesel at NOIC Msasa through CMED.
The State alleged that instead of delivering the fuel to ZPCS, Banda and Mazodze delivered 77 010 litres and sold 1 053 490 litres to Afrifor (Pvt) Ltd without the knowledge of ZPCS, CMED or the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
In a bid to conceal their crime, the State alleged that Banda raised a fake acquittal on December 5, 2017 indicating that the fuel had been delivered to ZPCS yet they had sold it to private fuel stations. The Herald