KWEKWE magistrate Story Rushambwa and clerk of court Bright Mpiyabo, yesterday had their case of illegally facilitating the release of a stolen vehicle to controversial businessman Shepherd Tundiya remanded to February 14 pending the finalisation of investigations.

Rushambwa (48) and Mpiyabo (45), who are being charged with criminal abuse of office, appeared before magistrate Francis Mapfumo for routine remand.

The duo is on $2 000 bail each.

According to court papers, sometime in September 2018 a Mercedes Benz vehicle was impounded from Tundiya by CID Kwekwe as it was suspected to have been stolen from South Africa and smuggled into Zimbabwe.

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The vehicle was then handed over to Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) for further management. It was then held pending finalisation of investigations by South African Police Service and possible settling of duty in terms of the Customs and Excise Act.

It is the State’s case that on December 9 last year, Tundiya made an ex parte application seeking the release of the motor vehicle and on the same day Rushambwa presided over the matter. He granted an order that the vehicle be released unconditionally to Tundiya.

It is alleged the order issued by Rushambwa was prejudicial to Zimra.

The State alleges the whereabouts of the vehicle are no longer known.

It is also alleged that sometime in October last year, a Toyota Hilux vehicle was impounded by the police anti-corruption unit from John Mapurazi.

The vehicle was taken as an exhibit in a case of fraud in Bulawayo after it was fraudulently imported into the country.

The State alleges the vehicle was then handed over to Zimra for customs management and finalisation of trial. It is alleged on December 27 last year, Mapurazi made an ex parte application seeking the release of the vehicle.

It is alleged Rushambwa then hatched a plan to order the release of the motor vehicle to Mapurazi. He allegedly in connivance with Mpiyabo withheld the record until Rushambwa who was on leave arrived at court to deal with the application.

The State alleges Mpiyabo then placed the record before Rushambwa well knowing he was on leave. Rushambwa, however, presided over the application in the absence of Mapurazi who was now being represented by Tundiya who is not a lawyer. The magistrate went on to grant the order for the release of the motor vehicle to Mapurazi.

The vehicle can no longer be accounted for.