Radio and television personality Tichafa Augustine Matambanadzo, popularly known as Tich Mataz, was yesterday convicted of smuggling clothes and shoes from China and was fined $300.
He had pleaded not guilty to contravening the Customs and Excise Act, but was convicted due to overwhelming evidence against him.
Harare magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube fined Matambanadzo with an option of two months in prison. Matambanadzo, through his lawyer Mr Godfrey Makwaye, asked for time to pay the fine, prompting Mr Ncube to ask if he was lying when he said his client has huge savings in mitigation.
Mr Ncube did not comment on whether or not Matambanadzo will pay the duty he evaded. In aggravation the prosecutor Mrs Francesca Mukumbiri said Matambanadzo contributed to the bleeding of the economy and sabotaged Government.
“His moral blameworthiness is high because of his celebrity status. He is expected to lead by example and observe the law. What example is he teaching the future generation?
“Smuggling is a serious offence and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is at the borders to collect revenue.”
In his defence, Matambanadzo said that he believed his items fell under rebate and was ordered to leave with his bags by a “certain” Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) official.
He also said Zimra machines were not working that day. Matambanadzo, is employed by ZiFM.
On January 7 this year, Matambanadzo arrived at Harare International Airport aboard a Kenya Airways flight from China.
After picking his boxes from the carousel, he went through the green route used by those with nothing to declare.
He was stopped by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority official Patrick Mukanganwi, who asked him to go through the red route for inspection of his goods.
The court heard that Matambanadzo was handed over to Patrick Mhanda, who was manning cubicle No.3 of the red route.
Matambanadzo was asked to complete a declaration form and he complied, but disappeared without paying $538,75 duty.