Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
THE High Court has dismissed an appeal against refusal of bail pending appeal by a South African man who is serving a 15-year jail term for stealing a car worth $25 000 from his country before smuggling it into Zimbabwe across a dry Limpopo riverbed.
Tshepo Makinita (23) of Pretoria was last year convicted of theft and smuggling by Bulawayo regional magistrate Mr Trynos Utawashe.
He was sentenced to 15 years in jail of which three years were conditionally suspended for five years.
Makinita, a second year economics student at Tshwane University of Technology, lodged an appeal before the same magistrate and the application was dismissed.
Makinita, through his lawyers, Zvinavakobvu Law Chambers, then filed an appeal against Mr Utawashe’s refusal to grant him bail pending appeal at the Bulawayo High Court citing the state as the respondent.
In his grounds of appeal, Makinita said there was misdirection on the part of the magistrate. He argued that he only received the car and acted on representations from one Lesego Modise who indicated that his duty was only to drive the vehicle to Harare where there was a prospective buyer.
He said there was no evidence to sustain his conviction, arguing that at the very least he should not have been convicted.
“The court a quo erred and grossly misdirected itself in convicting the appellant on the basis that he himself obtained the temporary import permit and registration certificate to facilitate the movement of the vehicle and therefore he had embraced the commission of an offence when in fact there was no evidence,” said Makinita’s lawyers.
In his ruling, Justice Lawrence Kamocha said the appeal lacked merit.
In dismissing the application, the judge said he was unable to discern any misdirection or irregularity in the conviction.
The State opposed bail, arguing that there was no guarantee that if granted bail, Makinita would not abscond to his country since he is a foreigner.
The court heard that in April last year, Makinita went to Mr Prozesky Cornelius Johannes’s home and stole a Toyota Hilux registration number CZTY204L.
He went on to forge a Temporary Import Permit (TIP). TIPs are only issued by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to foreign registered cars to allow their temporary importation into the country.
After obtaining the fake documents, Makinita smuggled the stolen car into Zimbabwe through the bush across the dry Limpopo riverbed to avoid paying duty.
On April 23, Makinita drove the car along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo road. He picked one Mtanda Moyo who had asked for a lift to Gwanda. The court heard that Makinita was intercepted at a roadblock in Makhado leading to the discovery of the offence.
The vehicle was taken to Zimra and South African Revenue Services (Sars) in Beitbridge to authenticate the documents and it was discovered that they were forged leading to Makinita’s arrest.