Zimra official jailed 18 months

GWERU magistrate Progress Murandu yesterday sentenced a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) official to a wholly suspended jail term after convicting her of criminal abuse of office.

Mercy Dzvuke (48), a Zimra liaison officer based in Gweru, was accused of extorting US$500 from medical doctor Thomas Ndebele, who had outstanding tax returns.

Murandu sentenced Dzvuke to 18 months and suspended nine months on condition of good behaviour.

The remaining nine months were set aside on condition that she completes 315 hours of community service at Ascot Secondary School.

The community service commences today.

The State's case was that on August 2 last year, Dzvuke and Alfred Gwara were conducting compliance checks on tax returns when they visited Ndebele's surgery.

The duo told Ndebele that failure to submit returns attracted a heavy penalty.

The court heard that Ndebele asked for more time to compile and submit the tax returns.

They then advised Ndebele to engage a tax consultant by the name Nyanhete.

The court further heard that in the process of negotiations, Dzvuke solicited for US$500 so that she could delete the penalties in the Zimra systems.

Ndebele, however, told her that he was financially constrained to meet the demand. In mid-August, Dzvuke allegedly made a follow-up on the bribe.

According to the court, Ndebele made a report to Zimra head office and the organisation tasked Crispen Marengano and Sympathy Chipise to investigate.

The Zimra officials engaged the Criminal Investigation Department in Gweru and set a trap.

On September 1, Ndebele was asked by the police to call Dzvuke advising her to come and collect US$250. Dzvuke went to the surgery to collect the money, but was intercepted by detectives on her way outside.

In her defence during trial, Dzvuke, who was being represented by Reginald Chidawanyikasaid she collected the money on behalf of Nyanhete to assist Ndebele comply with the Zimra tax systems.

Monica Mungweni prosecuted.

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