By Thupeyo Muleya
The police have arrested two more Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials deployed at Beitbridge Border Post, as the Government intensifies its crack down on rent-seeking activities at the border with South Africa.
Nelson Chinguwo and Innocent Sithole are accused of causing the clandestine release to their owner’s goods that had been seized for violation of customs laws.
The state stood to lose over $6,2 million and US$8 000 in import revenue.
Under the current customs law, goods seized from offenders are kept in a State warehouse for 90 days before being disposed of through an auction in the event the owners fail to settle matters with the revenue collector within a given period.
Authorities estimate that the country could be losing an estimated US$1 billion in uncollected import duty due to smuggling and other criminal activities along the Limpopo River annually.
Last week, State Security Minister Owen Ncube, who led senior members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) during a tour of the border post, said the Government was upgrading and tightening screws on criminal activities along the border line with South Africa.
Chinguwo and Sithole’s arrest follows that of three others last week, who are accused of facilitating the smuggling of four tankers laden with 176 000 litres of unleaded petrol worth US$85 000 in import duty.
The duo, who are facing criminal abuse of office charges, have since appeared before Beitbridge Resident Magistrate, Mr Toyindepi Zhou.
Chinguwo, who is alleged to have released goods valued at $5,9 million and US$8 000 was remanded to December 24 on $30 000 bail. Sithole is accused releasing goods worth $160 000 and was remanded to same date on $20 000 bail.
The State, led by Mr Ronald Mugwagwa, alleges that an assortment of goods was seized at Beitbridge Border Post in June this year from various people for violating customs laws.
The goods were then locked in a State warehouse at Manica Transit Shed.
They were subject to release on conditions the owners paid import duty amounting to $6,2 million and US$8 000.
Mr Mugwagwa said between November 24 and December 3, Chinguwo released part of the goods attracting the import duty of $5,9 million to their owners, while Sithole released goods worth $160 000.
He said the matter came to light on December 3 when a senior Zimra official checked the records after coming across some of the owners leaving the State warehouse at Manica Transit Shed.
He discovered that the duo had tempered with records to cause the release of the said consignment.
The matter was then reported to the police leading to subsequent arrest of Chinguwo and Sithole. The Herald