Trucking company wins case against Zimra; tax agency had seized trucks and 100,000 litres of petrol

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By Staff Reporter 

A local trucking company, Ajara Logistics Pvt Ltd, will finally get back its 100,000 litres of fuel and trucks which have been parked at Chirundu Border Post after being seized by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority  (Zimra).

This follows a successful High Court application filed by company owner, Ronald Ajara in December complaining his trucks and fuel were unlawfully seized.

Court heard that sometime last year, Ajara was contracted by one of his clients to transport petrol from Mozambique to Zambia via Zimbabwe.

“The company dispatched two haulage tankers which passed through Forbes Border Post from Mozambique into the country headed for Zambia,” read his application.

Zimra officials at Chirundu Border Post seized the consignment and the trucks without giving reasons.

High Court judge Justice Webster Chinamhora ruled this was unlawful.

“I am satisfied that the applicant has shown that it was deprived of its trucks and fuel on board those trucks without its consent and in circumstances where the respondent did not follow due process,” said the judge.

Chinamhora ordered the High Court Sheriff to attach 107,000 litres of petrol seized by Zimra.

Zimra was also directed to release the fuel trucks.

In his application, Ajara said all his papers were in order.

“The petrol in question is not contraband. It was lawfully declared and ought to reach its intended Zambia destination,” said his attorneys.

He said if there was anything amiss with his drivers, his company could not be held accountable for that.

“Delinquent or errant behaviour, by any of the applicant’s drivers cannot be visited on the applicant as our law distinguishes between an owner of a vehicle and a person in charge of the vehicle that used to transport goods,” court was told.

Ajara sought an order in terms of the Administrative Justice Act setting aside a decision by Zimra and also a spoliation order.

He said he was losing out on business because of the seizure of his trucks.

“The petrol consignment is highly flammable especially in hot weather. It is also prone to vaporisation and expansion particularly in hot weather conditions.

“It is heavily regulated and categorised in our law as a hazardous substance that requires pre-clearance before it arrives at a border post.

“Fuel tankers are not allowed to be stationed at a border post beyond three hours hence the pre-clearance process. Respondent’s continued detention of the consignment endangers human safety and surrounding property.”

The businessman added; “It is unthinkable that the petrol tankers with a total of more than 100,000 litres of unleaded petrol are parked in the open and in the middle of border infrastructure and other persons’ vehicles and property.

“Should any fire outbreak affect the trucks, the fiscus will needlessly be forced to compensate the applicant over a product/ goods that are in transit and of no benefit at all to our country.”