1 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Tobacco Robbery - Still No Joy for Accused

THE State is still to respond to a bail application made by two directors of TICOZ Protection Services accused of supplying information which led to the robbery of two Savanna Tobacco Zimbabwe trucks carrying cigarettes worth over R5 million.

The pair is facing three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery. Tarwireyi Tirivavi (48) and Tinashe Dekeya (35) had their application for refusal of remand dismissed by Harare magistrate Ms Anita Tshuma and through their lawyer Mr Shingi Mutumbwa they are seeking bail at the High Court.

They argue that there is no cogent reason to suggest that they may abscond as they were directors of a security company from whose operations they derive their livelihoods.

"It is not in dispute that investigations were commenced over six months ago.

"The accused have not been pointed out to be interfering with any witnesses or disturbed investigations, directly or indirectly.

"The complainant and its employees who stand to be the witnesses have not and have no contact whatsoever," argued Mr Mutumbwa.

He also submitted that there was no cogent reason of fear that they may commit other offences while on bail and the applicants' prospects of being acquitted were high.

The State is still to respond to the application. The complainant in the matter is Savanna Tobacco Zimbabwe, represented by its head of operations Mr Simon Kapuya.

The State alleges that sometime in April, a South African company, Forensic Security Services, contracted Ticoz -- which is owned by the accused - who were once employees of Forest Security Consultancy.

It is alleged that Forest Security Consultancy was once contracted to survey all indigenous tobacco manufacturers in Zimbabwe and pass the information to Forensic Security Services.

Another South African Company, Tobacco Institute of South Africa, had contracted Forensic Security to monitor and suppress locally-manufactured cigarettes in the Sadc region and promote products of British American Tobacco.

Ticoz would allegedly gather information of consignments from indigenous companies being exported in the region and send information to Forensic Security Services.

The State says the information was then used to rob the consignments at gunpoint while in South Africa, depriving the local companies and the country of revenue.

On May 14, it is alleged, two Savanna trucks with cigarettes worth R3 901 388,80 were stolen in Germiston and a report was made in South Africa. On August 13 this year in Germiston another Savanna truck was robbed of cigarettes worth R1 862 600.

On September 26, Muronzereyi was arrested by a Savanna Tobacco security officer after he was seen recording registration numbers of trucks entering and leaving Savanna. It is alleged that upon being interviewed, Muronzereyi said he was employed by Ticoz to record details of vehicles entering and leaving Savanna. A book with the vehicles' registration numbers in question was found in his pocket when he was searched.

Muronzereyi implicated Dekeya and Tirivavi as the persons who had contracted him. The total value of the stolen cigarettes is R5 763 988,80.

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