Espionage suspects remanded in custody

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THREE 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 yesterday

appeared in court facing three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery.
Hosea Manzunzu (46), Tarwireyi Tirivavi (48) and Tinashe Dekeya (35) were arrested on Tuesday as police investigations into possible corporate espionage involving US$100 million worth of cigarettes continue.

They were not formally charged when they appeared before Harare magistrate Ms Anita Tshuma who remanded them in custody to today for the State to respond to their application for refusal of remand.

Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza applied to the court that the trio be remanded in custody, but Mr Charles Chinyama who is appearing for Manzunzu and Mr Listen Zinyengere for the other two challenged the application.

Mr Chinyama said the court had no jurisdiction to preside over a robbery case, which occurred in South Africa.

He argued that details of the robbery were not given and the conspiracy was alleged to have been committed by a company. Mr Chinyama argued that asking Manzunzu to answer to the charges would infringe his constitutional right to liberty.

Mr Zinyengere said Edmore Muronzereyi, who is alleged to have been an accomplice and on the run, had been tried at Mbare Magistrates Courts and was acquitted of charges emanating from the same facts.

The complainant in the matter is Savanna Tobacco Zimbabwe represented by its head of operations Mr Simon Kapuya.

Mr Reza said sometime in April, a South African company Forensic Security Services contracted Ticoz owned by the three who were once employees of Forest Security Consultancy.

He 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.

Mr Reza said 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.

Source: The Herald Online – by: Innocent Ruwende Senior Court Reporter


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