Harare businessman faces theft charges

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangangwa’s former top aide, Douglas Tapfuma, who is accused of corruptly acquiring duty-free certificates for car imports, said the chief accounting officer in the President’s Office Ray Ndhlukula should have been treated as an accomplice since he authorised the documentation.
Tapfuma is being accused of evading car import duty using the State Residences Department’s name and is answering to the charges before Harare regional magistrate Esthere Chivasa where Ndukula testified yesterday.
Ndhlukula told the court that he was not aware when Tapfuma made requests for duty free certificates that he was purchasing personal cars.
Procedurally, personal vehicles for employees under State Residences are procured through CMED and duty-free certificates are only issued for motor vehicles meant for public use, the court heard.
However, after prosecutor Clement Chimbare had produced copies of duty — free certificates acquired by Tapfuma for a Honda Fit, Toyota Alteza and Nissan Tiida, which were approved by Ndhlukula — he failed to justify why he approved the purchase of such type of cars for State House.
“There was no misrepresentation made by the accused person. You knew who the importer was and cognisant of the policy in place for this benefit and went on to sign,” Tapfuma’s lawyer Brighton Pabwe said.
“If you were not aware you could not have signed, otherwise you should have been seated in the dock as an accomplice to the offence alleged.”
Ndhlukula did not take the comment lightly and advised the court that he had been offended.
“I am not impressed. I am very clear of my professionalism and it is not nice that after 37 years of service I am labelled a criminal,” Ndhlukula said.
Tapfuma claimed that his actions were in compliance with policies in the State Residences at the material time but Ndhlukula refuted that such policies ever existed.
Ndhlukula said if there was such policy he would have taken advantage of it to his benefit, adding that he trusted Tapfuma’s requests were in compliance with set regulations as the then principal director.

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