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Zimra ordered to release seized truck

by Staff reporter
16 Apr 2024 at 14:31hrs | Views
The High Court has ordered the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to release a truck and its contents seized from a driver who was facing allegations of smuggling before he was acquitted by the courts.

Zimra was found in contempt of court by the High Court after it appealed the lower court's judgment to release the property to the owner.

Zimra and Kenneth Mungati in their appeal cited the truck driver Patrick Baureni as the respondent.

Zimra and Mungati appealed a ruling by the court in Beitbridge that found them in contempt for refusing to release the property arguing that the magistrate had no authority to release impounded property.

Baureni was arrested on January 17, 2021 along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Highway and was taken to Beitbridge Border Post where the truck and its contents were seized by Zimra officials.

Baureni was prosecuted at Beitbridge Magistrates Court but was acquitted.

The trial court then ordered the release of the truck and its contents from Zimra's custody.

Baureni then approached Mungati seeking the release of the truck and its contents and was informed that the Magistrates' Court had no jurisdiction over the matter.

His lawyers wrote to Zimra Commissioner-General requesting compliance with the court order to no avail.

Baureni then sought an order declaring Mungati and Zimra in contempt of court for wilful disregard of the court order and refusal to comply with it.

The court later convicted Mungati and Zimra of contempt of court and sentenced them to 60 days imprisonment each until they released the property.

Mungati and Zimra appealed against the conviction arguing that the magistrate had erred when the court order was issued against the State and not them.

They also argued that the magistrate erred by ruling that the criminal court had jurisdiction to order the release of the vehicle.

However, judges of appeal Justices Neville Wamambo and Emilia Muchawa dismissed the appeal saying Zimra and Mungati did not in their oral submissions seek to point out that they had not complied with the order of the lower court.

The judges said Zimra and Mungati by not challenging the averments that they complied with the order had confirmed the contempt and that for the avoidance of doubt they found that they complied with the order issued by the Magistrates Court.

"The appeal stands to fail with costs following the results. The appeal be and is hereby dismissed. The appellants are to pay respondents' costs jointly and severally one paying the other to be absolved," the judges ruled.

Source - newsday
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