Plumtree woman ‘steals’ imported car

A Plumtree woman appeared in court Friday for allegedly stealing a motor vehicle she had not imported, by clearing and paying duty fees for it at the border town’s Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) offices.

Sharmaine Mlambo (33) a car dealer from the border town, was arrested and charged with theft of a motor vehicle.

The stolen vehicle belongs to Marita Mangani (36) from Bulawayo’s Burnside suburb, who found her car ‘gone’ after travelling to Plumtree to clear it.

Mangani bought the vehicle from Car Max Africa, a private company based in Durban, South Africa.

She requested that that car be ferried to Botswana, while she sorted the funds to pay for duty.

The state represented by Willbrought Muleya, alleges Mlambo obtained a proforma invoice pertaining to Mangana’s car from the same company, yet it was not supposed to be used as proof of payment of the motor vehicle. 

“Mlambo went ahead and fixed the imported pre-clearance of the vehicle at ZIMRA Plumtree Border Post and paid duty in that regard,” the prosecutor said.

Muleya added that when Mangani’s car arrived at Plumtree Border Post, which was under her name, as per the Customs and Exercise cargo manifest, Mlambo altered the name and entered hers.

“Mlambo proceeded to process the final clearance before taking the car into her possession without Mangani’s consent,” the prosecutor added.

Mlambo, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, was however freed on ZWL$5 000 bail.

Plumtree Magistrate, Tayengwa Chibanda, said as part of the bail conditions, ordered Mlambo to surrender her passport to the police and to reside at her home in George Silundika in the border town.

Mlambo was also ordered not to interfere with state witnesses. 

In her bail application, Mlambo’s legal representative, Tutu Ncube, pleaded with the court to unconditionally release his client as it was her constitutional right.

“My client is not a flight risk, when the police summoned her to the police station yesterday (Thursday) she gladly availed herself. This in its own essence, Your Worship, is a sign that she has every intention to stand trial. She even provided her residential address so that should the police need anything from her, they can easily access her,” said the lawyer.

“Denying her bail right now would be trampling on her constitutional right. The state, as we speak has not provided us with any witnesses’ statements, so there is no need to worry about interference, as we do not even know whom they intend to call as their witnesses.”

In laying charges, Muleya said the complainant -Mangana purchased her vehicle on March 1 2021, and on March 20,  Mlambo obtained a proforma invoice of the same vehicle, which she used to commit the alleged offence.

“On March 23, 2021 Mlambo did an import pre-clearance of the vehicle at ZIMRA Plumtree Border Post and paid duty in that regard. On March 30, 2021 Mangani’s car arrived at Plumtree Border Post under her name according to the Customs and Exercise cargo manifest and (somehow) was altered by Mlambo into her name. She went on to process the final clearance and took the car into her possession without Mangani’s consent,” Muleya said.

“On April 30, Mangani’s import waiver was approved by ZIMRA Plumtree Border Post and was given green light to import her car and that was when she discovered the offence. On May 3, 2021 Director of Car Max Africa, Junaid Bhatti, issued an affidavit statement indicating that Mangani was the sole owner of the car and was not aware how Mlambo had obtained the proforma invoice.”

The value of the vehicle was US$1 400 and nothing was recovered, said Muleya.

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