A HARARE magistrate on Monday set-free two senior officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) charged with criminal abuse of authority on lack of sufficient evidence.
Zimra’s case against Tafara Gumede and Obriel Tozivepi collapsed before magistrate Victoria Mashamba, leaving her with no option but to set the duo free.
It was the state’s case that Gumede and Tozivepi had, during the course of their duties, raided bus-operator Megalink Transport on suspicion of tax evasion but did not submit a report to their seniors.
The two had allegedly solicited for a $40,000 bribe as well as a Range Rover vehicle in return for concealing evidence against the international transporter.
Magistrate Mashamba however, dismissed the charges for lack of evidence and referred the matter to a disciplinary hearing.
“This is clearly an internal matter that can be resolved through an internal hearing not through a criminal process.
“The evidence is insufficient to incriminate the accused because it is based on the false alarm of an informant,” said Mashamba.
The magistrate added that the two managers were therefore not guilty of a criminal offence, berating the tax collector of approaching “the wrong platform”.
According to the magistrate, the Megalink official who testified against the duo had killed the case when he denied the state’s claims that he gave money to the two Zimra officials let alone a vehicle.
Gumede and Tozivepi had applied for discharge at the end of a marathon trial on the basis that the State had not provided enough incriminating evidence to sustain a case against them.
The two argued that the State had failed to show that they acted with criminal intention in the exercise of their duties relating to the case.
“It is of paramount importance to itemize the essential elements of the offence in question; of critical importance is the essential element of intention which ought to be established,” the two argued through their lawyer Admire Rubaya of Rubaya and Chatambudza legal practitioners.
“In this particular case the charge, as couched by the State, there is no indication at all that the accused are alleged to have acted with the much needed criminal intention for there to be said to have been the offence of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.Advertisement
“From the reading of the whole charge to which the accused persons pleaded not guilty, there is no indication whatsoever of the alleged criminal intention such that on the ground of the absence of that essential element of criminal intention should see the demise of this offence (sic),”.