Harare-A Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officer, based in Plumtree, linked to a vehicle smuggling syndicate that defrauded the revenue collector of more than US$530 000 was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday for fraud involving 39 cars, Chronicle reports.
Semkelwe Maphosa committed the crime last year between January and July for producing fraudulent Customs Clearance Certificates for different types of cars worth huge amounts of money.
In passing the sentence, Plumtree regional magistrate Mr Bishard Chineke said: “Fraud is a very serious crime and what makes this offence even more serious is the number of counts, which are just too much and it shows that it was carefully planned. The amount of level of prejudice is high, which means she benefitted immensely.
Mr Chineke ruled:“Accused defrauded her employer on several occasions showing more of greed than necessity. Corruption is a cancer in Zimbabwe and those who commit such offences deserve lengthy custodial sentences.”
Mr Chineke said Maphosa’s excuse to defraud her employer that she wanted “to raise money for medication” was not valid.
Of the 14 years, three years were suspended on condition that she return to Zimra $1 305 345, 68 by December 30 2020. Further five years were suspended on condition that she doesn’t commit a related offence during that period of time.
Maphosa is also suspected to be linked to another criminal syndicate involving Zimra official (29) who was imprisoned for fraud of over US$430 00 and $1,4 million.
There is also another related case still pending before the court which involves Ushe, who is facing accusations of fraudulently clearing 50 vehicles into the Zimra capturing system without officially charging duty.
Maphosa was responsible for typing customs and clearance certificates at Zimra. She was allegedly producing fraudulent certificates by forging her superior’s signatures.
Police established her whereabouts and arrested her after she went into hiding.
Prosecuting, Mr Robin Mukura revealed that January 7 and July 25, Maphosa released customs clearance certificates (CCC) employing Zimra’s computerised system for 39 vehicles that had been illegally imported in the country.
The luxury cars, worth millions of dollars, that were smuggled include different models like Hummer H3, Jeep Grand, Mercedes Benz, Isuzu, Landrover Discovery, Toyota Hilux, Nissan, Mazda, Lexus, Ford Ranger, BMW, Cherokee, Audi Q7, Toyota Fortuner, and Toyota Quantum among others.
Mr Mukura said:“Between January 7 and July 25 last year, Maphosa clandestinely captured into the Zimra system information on 39 cars smuggled into the country thereby generating an equipment number which if punched would display the particulars of the vehicle and enable printing CCC on the serialised forms at any Zimra station or printing of protected format document on bond paper.”
The court received information that Maphosa continued capturing Zimra data of the smuggled vehicles and processed their registration up until her password was deactivated after some investigations.
In mitigation, Maphosa’s lawyer Mr Byron Sengweni of Sengweni Legal Practice said Maphosa requested for lenience saying she has got a heart problem that requires her to have medical attention outside the country, and for her poor health conditions jail would expose her to high chances of contracting Covid-19.