19 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Espionage Saga - Three Arrested

THREE senior officials from a local private investigations company, TICOZ Protection Services have been arrested on allegations of corporate espionage targeting local cigarette manufacturers.

Sources close to the investigations said yesterday police arrested director operations Tagwirei Tirivavi, Cosygen Tinashe Dekeya and Hosiah Manzunzu in connection with the case.

"We have arrested the three today in connection with the espionage case and investigations are still in progress," a senior officer close to the investigations said yesterday.

Criminal Investigations Department spokesperson Detective Inspector Ntombizodwa Chiduro confirmed the arrest of three directors of TICOZ.

She, however, said she could not confirm the names of the suspects because she was not in the office at the time The Herald contacted her for comment.

"Three TICOZ directors have been picked up for questioning. They are going to court tomorrow. As of now they are in custody," said Detective Insp Chiduro.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed that detectives picked up the three TICOZ directors for questioning.

"Yes, CID detectives picked up three directors from TICOZ and questioned them but they were released for further management of the case," said Asst Comm Charamba.

Recently police distanced themselves from TICOZ, which is in the eye of a storm over its contract with South African-based security company Forensic Security Services to allegedly spy on local tobacco companies.

This came in the wake of claims that TICOZ works with the Police Border Control Unit and Zimra officials whom it supplies with information to make arrests on those it would have investigated for smuggling cigarettes.

Police are investigating economic espionage involving R100 million worth of cigarettes local firms reportedly lost to armed syndicates in transit to South Africa over the past years.

This follows reports that local firms - Savanna Tobacco, Breco (Fodya Private Ltd) Trednet, Cutrag, Kingdom and Chelsea -- lost their products to organised armed gangs in South Africa.

TICOZ has a working contract with a South African-based security firm Forensic Security Services, the company which reportedly contracted it to spy on indigenous cigarette manufacturers.

The information was allegedly used in the hijackings of export cigarettes in transit.

TICOZ denied any involvement in possible espionage in Zimbabwe.

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