PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally and former director of State Residences, Douglas Tapfuma, has dismissed as unfounded allegations that he criminally abused office by importing over 100 personal cars duty-free under the pretext that they belonged to the Office of the President and Cabinet.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Tapfuma’s bail application ruling was reserved by High Court judge Justice Phildah Muzofa.
Through his lawyer Shelliton Mahuni, Tapfuma, who has been behind bars for over three weeks, said it was inconceivable that he was being accused of having used the influence of his position to import personal cars without the knowledge of his boss, Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda.
Tapfuma said all the applications for vehicles duty-free certificates were made above board and duly signed by his superior, adding it was, however, senseless for the State to allege that he imported over 76 vehicles of the same make, being Isuzu trucks.
“The applications for duty-free certificates were made to his superior (Sibanda) and were approved. It was, however, up to his superior to either reject or accept the applications, but in this case, they were approved, meaning to say he was satisfied. The State is not alleging that he (Tapfuma) forged the signatures and presented them to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), but they were genuinely signed by his superior,” Mahuni said.
“The State also alleges that he imported 76 vehicles of the same make. Would one import such a huge number of vehicles of the same make? I do not think it makes sense, but the police used their discretion to level such a charge against him,” he added, dismissing claims by the State that if granted bail, his client would abscond.
In response to the bail application State representative, Editor Mavuto, who was assisted by Andrew Kumire, said the magistrate who denied Tapfuma bail did not misdirect himself given that he made a finding that the seriousness of the offence and the likelihood of a custodial sentence would be enough incentive for Tapfuma to abscond.
“The magistrate considered that the offence is serious and if convicted, the appellant will face a custodial sentence in view of the fact that there is zero tolerance on corruption,” Mavuto said, drawing laughter from the gallery.
“The magistrate also considered that there is overwhelming evidence linking him to the commission of the offence. There are letters signed by him requesting for the certificates and he did not disclose to his superior that the vehicles belonged to him.”
However, Justice Muzofa then asked Mavuto to explain why Tapfuma’s superior allegedly signed all the certificates, if he was aware that the vehicles were personal.
In his response, Mavuto said Tapfuma made some misrepresentations to his superior.