Tapfuma has case to answer

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1923

A HARARE magistrate yesterday dismissed former State House director Douglas Tapfuma’s application for discharge saying he must be put to his defence.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Tapfuma, who is represented by Jonathan Samukange, is facing three counts of criminal abuse of office.

The former State House director filed for discharge at the close of the State’s case, saying the State failed to prove a case against him, but magistrate Estere Chivasa dismissed the application.

Chivasa said the evidence produced in court by the State and seven witnesses who testified raised a lot of issues, which Tapfuma should respond to.

“Evidence was laid in court which was not disputed by the defence. Several documents of the vehicle importations were produced in court and the vehicles in question were exempted to pay duty, but the accused must be given the chance to defend himself for his actions before the court determines whether he is guilty or not guilty,” Chivasa said.

Tapfuma had alleged that he was targeted by his enemies who saw him as a threat to their positions since he was becoming powerful after the ushering in of the new dispensation led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The witnesses, who include Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Ray Ndhlukula, said what Tapfuma did was a first since his 30 years in the public service.

The magistrate postponed the matter to tomorrow for the defence case.

It is alleged that on April 17, 2018, Tapfuma assigned one Bonani Ganyane, an officer working in the transport section of the Department of State Residences, to go to Beitbridge and facilitate the clearance of his two personal vehicles using government report order forms.

The prosecution alleged that clearance of goods by a report order form is a procedure used by government departments to apply for deferred clearance of goods from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

After clearing the vehicles, Tapfuma allegedly instructed Ganyane to hand over the vehicles to Vongaishe Mupereri, who at that time was Mbizo legislator.

The court heard that on April 20, 2018, Tapfuma applied to the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet requesting for duty-free certificates in the name of the President’s Department and they were issued.

Tapfuma allegedly then applied for duty exemption for the vehicles at Zimra which was granted.