Trader in State House drama claims Sh800m

Sunday June 9 2019

 

By Elias Msuya @TheCitizTZ news@thecitizen.co.tz

Dar es Salaam. A businessman who was named by President John Magufuli among the traders who were mistreated by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is demanding over Sh800 million from the agency in compensation for the loss he incurred.

TRA officials were accused of withholding containers of goods that Ramadhani Ntunzwe (pictured) had imported from South Africa for three years and for soliciting bribes. On Friday, the president directed the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to arrest those fingered in the case when the story emerged at State House in Dar es Salaam.

The businessman, who owns a shop in Kariakoo’s Congo Street told The Citizen that the whole episode started in October, 2016 when he was clearing his cargo from South Africa. He said he was made to pay over Sh50 million as taxes for the cargo that included bags, wigs and CCTV cameras.

“After paying all taxes on the Tunduma border and presenting all documents, I was allowed to leave and passed through all the check points without a problem.

“When I arrived at Mbezi kwa Msuguri in Dar es Salaam the semi-trailer truck that ferried my cargo developed a mechanical problem and the driver had to park it at the roadside.”

“At 11:30pm when we were off loading the cargo onto another truck a Land Cruiser came over. I was asked to show documents to prove whether the cargo belonged to me. They satisfied themselves and left,” he said.

“After half an hour another car with three police officers came over and I was asked who the owner of the cargo was,” he recalls.

“I told them it was mine. One of the officers (name withheld) demanded money without asking for my documents. They threatened to call TRA officers.”

After offloading the cargo, he says, they left but when they reached Kimara Mwisho they were stopped by a TRA officer and armed police officers.

“That TRA officer (name withheld) identified himself and asked for my documents. He demanded a bribe of Sh2 million. I told him the police officers who phoned him also demanded a bribe but I refused to give them,” he said.

After refusing to givea bribe, TRA officials seized the cargo from October 2016 to March 2019 when they released.

He said his shop was closed by TRA and he was remanded at Msimbazi Police Station from 11am to 7pm when he was released on bail.

“After six months of closure, TRA officers came to reopen my shop, but all my property had been stolen. I got a loss of Sh821 million,” said the businessman.