The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been given the greenlight to forfeit to the State three trucks belonging to former first lady Mrs Grace Mugabe that were brought into Zimbabwe more than 10 years ago without payment of duty after the supplier lied to Zimra that they were only temporarily in the country.
Four South African drivers sent by the supplier to deliver the three trucks were charged with swindling Mrs Mugabe of US$1 million in a truck-deal after she complained to police that the wrong model of truck was delivered. Cassimjee Bilal, Henry Hadebe, Samuel Baloyi and Sydney Sekgobelo, all South Africans, were later granted bail pending trial but jumped bail and returned to South Africa.
NPA applied for the forfeiture of the trucks in June this year but Harare magistrate Ms Barbara Mateko threw out the State application. But on review at the High Court, Justice Pisirayi Kwenda reversed the magistrate’s decision and ordered forfeiture of the three Iveco 440 trucks to the State.
The three trucks were caught in the crossfire between Mrs Mugabe and her former associate, Ping Sung Hsieh, after a US$1 million deal went sour.
In February 2011 Bilal, Radebe, Baloyi and Sekgobela, were hired by Ping to deliver three trucks to Mrs Mugabe’s aides in Harare. Mrs Mugabe had ordered Scania trucks but Ping sent the Iveco trucks, leading Mrs Mugabe through her aide Ms Olga Bungu to file a police report.
Investigations also revealed that the drivers misrepresented to Zimra officials at the Beitbridge that the trucks were on a visit into Zimbabwe, resulting in the customs officer issuing the trucks with temporary import permits. That meant no duty was paid.
The origin of the deal dates back to 2007, when the Mugabe family agreed to buy six haulage trucks from South Africa for $1 million.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe allegedly transferred the money to Ping’s company in South Africa but the trucks were not delivered.
Finally, on February 18 2011, Ping sent the four drivers to deliver the trucks. They were granted bail after spending two weeks in jail and barred from leaving Zimbabwe before their trial in June the same year, but they all skipped bail. – State Media