Three Ticoz directors charged

HARARE - Three business executives have appeared in court facing charges of conspiring to rob local firm, Savanna Tobacco Holdings (STH).

Savanna Tobacco Holdings lost more than R18 million through hijackings in South Africa which they blamed on a private firm headed by former apartheid detective with close links with a group of Zimbabwean ex-servicemen.

Yesterday, a Harare magistrate arraigned three Ticoz directors who allegedly conspired to rob Savanna Tobacco Holdings (STH) of more than R5 million.

Hosea Manzunzu, 46, Tarwireyi Tirivavi, 48, and Tinashe Cosygene Dekeya, 35, allegedly conspired to rob STH trucks in South Africa.

The trio appeared before magistrate Anita Tshuma on conspiracy to commit robbery charges.

The court heard that a South African company, Forensic Security Services (FSS) contracted Ticoz, owned by Manzunzu, Tirivavi and Dekeya in April this year.

FSS is headed by Stephen Botha who is at the centre of the smuggling and espionage allegations by STH and three other local tobacco firms who claim have been prejudiced of millions of dollars as a result of the “spying” and “robberies”.

According to state papers, the trio was once employed by Forest Security Services which was once contracted by FSS to do a surveillance of all Zimbabwean tobacco manufacturing companies.

Their duties were to carry out surveillance on the indigenous tobacco manufacturers in Zimbabwe and pass the information to FSS, the court head.

Prosecutor Michael Reza told the court that Tobacco Institute of South Africa (Tisa) contracted FSS to monitor and suppress the supply of locally-manufactured cigarettes in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region and thus promoting the products of British America Tobacco (BAT) in the region.

The operation was that Ticoz would gather information of consignments from indigenous companies being exported in the region and send that information to FSS, the court heard.

According to state papers, from the information sent, the consignments were robbed or stolen while in South Africa and thus depriving local companies and the country of revenue.

It is alleged that two Savanna trucks were robbed at gun point in Germiston, South Africa in May and cigarettes worth more than R3,9 million.

In August another Savanna truck was robbed of cigarettes worth more than R1,8 million at the same place in South Africa.

The court heard Edmore Muronzereyi was arrested by Savanna security officer Farai Mugari after he was caught recording registration numbers of trucks entering and leaving Savanna Tobacco Zimbabwe.

Muronzereyi who is still at large, allegedly indicated that he was employed by Ticoz to record the registration numbers of trucks leaving and entering the company.

Upon being searched, he was found with a paper with registration numbers of Savanna trucks which he said was need by Manzunzu, Tirivavi and Dekeya.

He was also found with a Zimbabwe National Army identification card and lied that he was still a service member yet had resigned and was working for Ticoz, the court heard.

The trio will be back in court today for bail ruling. - Ivan Zhakata

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