File image|A trio from Harare, accused of leading a cartel involved in smuggling vehicles into the country, was granted bail on Friday after spending nearly a week in custody. Magistrate Donald Ndirowei presided over the case and granted each of the accused—Brian Matongo (41), Tinashe Kanda (41), and Elvis Jieman (38)—bail set at US$1000.

The charges against them allege that in 2018, the three individuals conspired with officials from various organizations, including the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA), Central Vehicle Registration (CVR), and the Office of the President and Cabinet, to fraudulently register smuggled vehicles within the systems of these respective institutions.

One specific incident cited in the charges occurred on December 12, 2017, when Matongo, in collaboration with Wisdom Ndebele (who is still at large), smuggled a Toyota Fortuner with the chassis number AHTJA3GSX00232098 from South Africa into Zimbabwe.

To take advantage of ZIMRA, ZINARA, and CVR exemptions for taxes, licenses, and toll fees, the accused worked together to supply a vehicle registration book and the number plate AFC 0405, which belonged to the Office of the President and Cabinet. Tinashe Kanda was involved in this aspect of the scheme.

Furthermore, Elvis Jieman was accused of evading tax payments, vehicle license fees, and toll fees over an extended period from December 2018 to August 2023.

The illegal activities came to the attention of the Office of the President and Cabinet when they noticed an increase in the number of their exempted registration plates circulating in the market. They reported the matter to the police, leading to investigations that resulted in the recovery of the vehicles and registration plates. These items are currently being held in police custody as exhibits.