THE trial of popular TV and radio presenter, Tichafa Matambanadzo, better known as Tich Mataz, on smuggling charges, commenced Monday with him denying ever dodging duty.
Matambanadzo is accused of smuggling clothes and evading $538 duty.
Prosecutor Francesca Mukumbiri alleged that Matambanadzo vanished from the clearing cubicle before he paid the said amount.
But Matambanadzo argued that he was given permission to leave by an officer because the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) system was down.
The first witness, Patrick Mukanganwi, told court that he only handed over Matambanadzo to another officer, Munyaradzi Mhanda.
Mhanda confirmed that their system was indeed down as such went to process Matambanadzo’s goods on another cubicle only to come back and find him gone.
Matambanadzo told court that Mhanda also handed him over to another female officer who told him that he could leave.
Under cross examination with Matambanadzo’s attorney, Mhanda said he only introduced him to that female officer but did not hand him over to her.
Mhanda also told court that Matambanadzo wrote that he had five suits and five pairs of shoes on his declaration form yet he had seven suits.
Matambanadzo then gave a notice to apply for discharge on next appearance when the state closed its case.
According to the state, the incident occurred on January 7 when he arrived at Harare International Airport aboard Kenya airways.
When he arrived at customs post, Matambanadzo took the green route and was approached by Mukanganwi who directed him to the red route.
The green route is used by travellers who are not carrying restricted goods.
Court heard the officer handed him to another officer who was manning cubicle 3 of the red route.
The officer gave him a declaration form before he went through Matambanadzo’s goods which comprised of several suits, track suits and shirts, among other things.
The teller briefly left Matambanadzo going to the next cubicle to capture the information in their system.
When he came back Matambanadzo had vanished.