Clearing agent in US$38K con

A HARARE customs clearing agent has been arrested on allegations of defrauding a local car dealer of US$38 000 in unpaid duty fees for two top of the range bakkies. 

Robert Maganga Pembedza was not asked to plead to fraud allegations when he appeared before Harare magistrate Denis Mangosi yesterday, accused of faking to have paid the duty when clearing the two vehicles at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra). 

Pembedza was remanded in custody to today for bail ruling after the prosecution opposed his admission to bail saying he is a flight risk with interests outside the country, and that he has another case before the courts. 

Prosecutors allege that in February this year, the complainant Exevia Maoneke of Executive Car Sales imported two Toyota Hilux bakkies — a double and a single cab — from Thailand. 

Maoneke engaged Pembedza to clear the motor vehicles at Beitbridge Border Post after the latter indicated that he had the capacity to do so. 

Maoneke allegedly met with Pembedza near FBC Bank at corner First Street and Nelson Mandela Avenue in the capital and gave him USD$38 481, which was meant for duty for the two trucks. 

The court heard that on April 13, Pembedza went to Zimra Kurima House where he allegedly produced a fake proof of payment (POP) worth US$38 481, purported to have been made into the tax collector’s FBC Bank
US$ account. 

Acting on the POP presented by Pembedza, Zimra then cleared the vehicles at Beitbridge. 

The matter only came to light after Zimra later on discovered that no money had been credited into their account based on the POP presented by Pembedza. 

Investigations by the tax collector unearthed that the POP presented to them by Pembedza was forged. 

Prosecutors said the POP was bearing an FBC Bank date stamp of April 13, 2019, yet the purported transaction was done on April 13, 2021. 

After Zimra had completed their investigations, they called in Maoneke for questioning at Kurima House, where he was notified that he had outstanding duty arrears. 

He was asked to present the proof of payments and produced the same document that had already been identified as fake by Zimra. 

Maoneke was then ordered to pay an outstanding duty of
US$29 634 for the same two bakkies despite having already given Pembedza the initial US$38 481.