Latest News Editor's Choice

News / Local

Zimra ordered to surrender 100 000 litres of seized fuel

by Staff reporter
04 Feb 2023 at 20:15hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has been ordered to surrender over 100 000 litres of petrol and trucks seized from a local trucking company after it emerged this was unlawfully done.

This follows a successful lawsuit by the company, Ajara Trucking Logistics (Pvt) LTD (Ajara), whose trucks have been grounded at Chirundu Border Post with a consignment of 107 512 litres of fuel since December last year.

Ajara filed an urgent chamber application against Zimra last year complaining that the tax regulator did not give reasons why the fuel and trucks were seized.

According to court papers, sometime last year, Ajara was contracted by one of its clients to transport petrol from Mozambique to Zambia via Zimbabwe.

The company dispatched two haulage tankers which passed through Forbes Border Post from Mozambique into the country headed for Zambia.

In December 2022 and at Chirundu Border Post, Zimra seized the company's two haulage tankers plus the horses and all fuel contained therein.

No written reasons were given against the mandatory requirements.

Upon there were demands for the release of the trucks and the petrol, Zimra later alleged that some seals on the tankers had been tampered with. But the company complained this was not fair.

"Supposing the allegation of the seals having tampered with is anything to go by, that does not form a basis for seizing applicant's trucks and consignment as the quantity and quality standard of the petrol in both tankers is still the same as it was loaded and declared at Forbes Border Post, after numerous tests/ measurement at Zimra's behest," said lawyers representing the company.

"The petrol in question is not contraband. It was lawfully declared and ought to reach its intended Zambia destination.

"Delinquent or errant behaviour, if any, of the applicant's drivers cannot be visited on the applicant as our law distinguishes between an owner of a vehicle and a person in charge of vehicle that is used to transport goods," the court was told.

Ajara sought an order in terms of the Administrative Justice Act setting aside a decision of Zimra and also a spoliation order.

In his founding affidavit, the company owner Ronald Ajara said Zimra had unlawfully deprived him of his petrol and trucks.

"Zimra's notices of seizure are generalised/ standard forms onto which Zimra simply inserted the details of the vehicles and the quantity of the petrol without promptly specifying or particularising what sort of conduct/offence on the part of the applicant necessitated such administrative decision."

Ajara also expressed concern that his fuel could be wasted.

"The petrol consignment is highly flammable especially in hot weather. It is also prone to vaporisation and , particularly in hot weather conditions. It is heavily regulated and categorised in our law as a hazardous substance that requires pre-clearance before it arrives at a border post.

"Fuel tankers are not allowed to be stationed at a border post beyond three hours hence the pre-clearance process.

"Respondent's continued detention of the consignment endangers human safety and surrounding property.

"It is unthinkable that the petrol tankers with a total of more than 100 000 litres of unleaded petrol are parked in the open and in the middle of border infrastructure and other persons' vehicles and property. Should any fire outbreak affect the trucks, the fiscus will needlessly be forced to compensate the applicant over a product/goods that are in transit and of no benefit at all to our country."

High Court judge Justice Webster Chinamhora upheld Ajara's application.

He ordered the immediate release of the fuel, further stating that Zimra did not follow due process.

"I am satisfied that the applicant has shown that it was deprived of its trucks and fuel on board those trucks without its consent and in circumstances where the respondent did not follow due process.

"I am satisfied that in terms of s4 [section 4] of the law, this court can review the decision of the respondent upon demonstration that s3 of the same legislation was not complied with . I return to the respondent point in limine on propriety of the application before me and conclude that it has no merit," ruled the judge.

The High Court Sheriff was directed to attach from Zimra at Chirundu Border Post, 53 644 litres of petrol seized under notice of seizure (number 005685L) and 53 868 litres of petrol seized by Zimra.

Zimra was also directed to release a haulage horse (registration number AEZ7438); a tanker (Reg No. AEZ7022); a tanker (Reg No. 005687L) and a horse (Reg. No. AEG9297); a tanker (Reg. No. AEZ7042); a tanker (Reg. No. AEZ7018).

Source - thenewshawks