Trio accused of stealing tobacco worth $450 000


Two employees with the Tobacco Processors Zimbabwe (TPZ) and a Zambian national have been taken to court on allegations of stealing 1 446 bales of tobacco valued at nearly $450 000 from their employers.
They allegely sold their loot to Tombwe Processing Company of Zambia.
Ndinewe Marebesa (36), Peterson Chumakunetsa (32) and Fanuel Gwenzi (34) appeared before regional magistrate Morgan Nemadire yesterday on fraud charges.
Prosecutor Michael Reza alleged that between April 2009 and August the same year, the trio together with Kandaipasi Marebesa Paul from Zambia and George Makonza an employee at Bak Storage, hatched a plan to steal the tobacco.
Chumakunetsa who was a data capturing clerk with TPZ at the time, allegedly stole vouchers from the factory and used them to withdraw 1 446 bales of tobacco from Bak Willowvale. He purported that the tobacco was destined for processing at TPZ.
The trio allegedly hired trucks from Devotion Enterprises T/A Taroan Transport in Msasa to transport the tobacco to Tombwe Processing Company in Lusaka, Zambia.
Assistant leaf accounting manager at TPZ Richard Fombe discovered the discrepancies while going through the actual inventory figures for Tianze Tobacco where 168 bales were discovered to be missing.
This prompted him to carry out investigations which led to the discovery of the missing tobacco.
The matter was reported to the police leading to the arrest of Marebesa, Chumakunetsa and Gwenzi.
Paul and Makonza are on the run.
Investigations revealed that Marebesa, Chumakunetsa and Gwenzi allegedly loaded bales of tobacco on steel pallets into hired trucks and offloaded them at Patmarsh Services (Private) Limited where they were temporarily stored before being transported to Zambia.
In an effort to avoid detection Marebesa allegedly hired welders Patrick Zata and Munashe Dandajena to destroy the steel pallets.
The state alleged that on August 20, Marebesa was deceived into believing that the welders had finished destroying the pallets and were waiting for their payment.
He was arrested upon arrival at Patmarsh Services and implicated Chumakunetsa and Gwenzi.
TPZ has a contract to handle and process tobacco on behalf of its shareholders and third parties.