Fuel smuggling storm: Ajara Trucking busted by ZIMRA
A Harare businessman is in the eye of a storm on allegations of smuggling fuel, with five of his trucks impounded by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on Monday, Zim Morning Post can reveal.
The Zimbabwean company Ajara Trucking, headed by Ronald Ajara, had five of their trucks held at Chirundu Border Post on Monday, the owner confirmed.
Sources told Zim Morning Post that the five tankers entered the country with thousands of litres of fuel purportedly in transit to Zambia.
The contents were emptied in Willowvale, Harare and replaced with water, it was alleged.
Zimra did not charge excise duty for the fuel at the point of entry after being duped the cargo was destined for Zambia.
The scheme is said to have happened on several occasions before one of the company’s drivers, disgruntled over harsh working conditions, spilled the beans to Zimra.
“One of his drivers who were disgruntled over welfare issues tipped Zimra regarding the fuel scam leading to the trucks being impounded,” a source told Zim Morning Post.
It is unknown how much the state was prejudiced, the source said
Reached for comment Ajara Trucking owner confirmed that his trucks had been seized by ZIMRA but denied any wrong doing.
“There is nothing like that. I have no trucks at Chirundu Border Post. They were released,” Ajara said.
“Zimra took the trucks and conducted their checks. After seeing that everything was above board the trucks were released.”
Ajara said he was baffled as to the reason the said whistle-blowers accused him of smuggling fuel into the country.
“There are people who will be suspect and target and accuse you for doing everything wrong but their motives are varied but I suppose its human nature. My business is above board.”
Zim Morning Post was yet to establish how the trucks were released but sources insist that money could have exchanged hands, insisting that for Zimra to seize the trucks there was reasonable suspicion that an offence had been committed.
Zimra could neither confirm nor deny that they had busted Ajara Trucks on allegations of evading duty.
“Zimra is unable to provide comment on the affairs of individual taxpayers as providing such information is a violation of their privacy which is protected at law,” Zimra spokesperson Francis Chimanda said.
The incident comes after former Zanu-PF Member of Parliament for Harare East Terrence Mukupe was in February 2017 said to have used the same modus operandi to try and smuggle 140 000 litres of diesel.
The fuel was purportedly in transit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zimra intercepted the four tankers at Chirundu Border Post after detecting a suspicious detour, and upon inspecting Mukupe’s four trucks they discovered that they were now carrying water.
His lawyer, Brian Hungwe, told the state media in written responses that the legislator got involved in the matter as an agent for the owners of the fuel.
Recently, Zimra busted a US$62 000 fuel smuggling racket in which two clearing agents allegedly disguised fuel tankers as duty-free crude soya oil, immediately leading to their apprehension by alert Zimra officers.
Malvern Mugoki, 38, and Wellington Kasalaweka, 34, of Vernson Freight (Pvt) Ltd have since appeared before Mutare magistrate, Tendai Mahwe, who freed them on ZWL$10 000 bail each to August 17
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