GWERU: A ZIMRA Officer in the Gweru Taxes Liason Section, Mercy Dzuke(48), was recently arrested after trying to extort US$500 from Thomas Ndebele, who runs the Dr Ndebele Surgery in Gweru for failing to submit Income Tax and PAYE Tax on time.
Circumstances surrounding the matter are that sometime in July 2022 accused one was on official duty in the company of another ZIMRA officer Alfred Gwara conducting compliance checks on Tax returns when they visited the informant’s surgery and realized that his returns were overdue.
The duo advised Ndebele that his failure to submit these returns attract a penalty of more than ZWL$500 000-00.
After the informant pleaded for a chance to compile and submit all the outstanding returns, the officers recommended he engage a Tax consultant named Nyanhete.
However, the accused demanded a cash payment of US$ 500 from Ndebele if they were not going to penalize him, a condition that he indicated he could not meet since he was financially constrained.
Around mid-August, Dzuke made a follow-up call to the surgery about the bribe but the informant could not meet the amount.
The informant later reported the case to ZIMRA Head office’s Loss Control Department which worked with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Gweru to set up a trap authority on the 1st of September.
Ndebele was asked to contact the accused through a phone call where they negotiated the amount to US$400.
A trap authority of US$250-00 of serialized US$50-00 denominations was applied by detectives and it was subsequently granted while Ndebele was invited to come and collect a bribe of US$250-00 from the informant’s surgery where detectives were conducting surveillance.
Upon leaving the Surgery, she was arrested by the detective and all the trap money amounting to US$250-00 was recovered.
She was later taken to CID Gweru.
On 2 September, Dzuke appeared at Gweru Magistrate court for initial remand and was remanded out of custody to 03 October 2022.
The accused received a ZWL50 000 bail and is to report once every last Friday in a fortnight at Gweru Central Police Station.
This case adds to the piling number of ZIMRA officials who are being prosecuted for corruption and bribery in the country.
A National Bribes Payers Index research carried out by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) recently indicated that ZIMRA is among the top four bribe-taking public institutions in Zimbabwe.
According to the report, ZRP was ranked the most bribe-taking institution with 38.9% followed by the Vehicle Inspection Department which scored 18.9% ahead of the Registrar General’s office with 15.1% while ZIMRA had 6.4% allocation of bribery in the sector.