BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
One of the trucks that was involved in a pile-up accident in Zambia in August last year resulting in more than six people being burnt beyond recognition belongs to Ephias Munodawafa, the current Chief Murinye of Masvingo, Standardpeople can reveal.
According to Zambian police public relations officer Esther Mwaata Katongo, the driver and the truck were unknown.
However, investigations have revealed the truck belongs to Chief Murinye, who is the director of Zikrag Investments and E&J Munodawafa (Pvt) Limited which specialises in haulage trucks.
The trucks were alleged to be unroadworthy and operating without certificates of fitness (COFs) resulting inÂ Remigio Tafiranyika Dhima, who was a driver of a Nissan UD truck registration number ACZ 2450, getting involved in the accident where he was burnt beyond recognition.
Dhima is reported to have been involved in an accident on August 16, 2020 along the Chirundu-Kafue road at Kapiringozi hills with three other trucks.
One of the trucks, a Volvo truck registration number ACQ 2702, was being driven by another Zimbabwean, Prince James of Clear Choice Logistics, and was on a breakdown. The third was another Zimbabwean male identified as Danmore Magoshe, of Srauss Logistics, driving a FAW truck registration number AEU 6414 and believed to have been carrying jet 1 fuel.
In chats before the tragic accident, Dhima, who was travelling from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and carrying silicon manganese, was constantly complaining about his brakes and the vehicle’s condition.
The accident occurred when Dhima, who was descending a hill, lost control of the vehicle due to brake failure before hitting a FAW truck which was suspected to be carrying jet1 fuel and later went and hit a stationary Volvo truck which had a breakdown. All motor vehicles were completely burnt.
Investigations unearthed three originals CFOs issued at VID Eastlea for E&J Munodawafa dated May 23, 2019 expiring on May 31, 2020 for his trailers.
All the three COFs were not cut and thus not attached on the trucks raising eyebrows about how the vehicles were operating for a whole year without COFs.
Contacted for comment, assistant manager at VID Eastlea, Caroline Tshuma, said she was not allowed to talk to the media.
Sources revealed that according to Tongaat Hullets regulations, no haulage truck is supposed to load without a COF. It remains a mystery how Murinye’s company was allowed to load at the sugar company without COFs amid allegations of bribery having been taking place.
On September 20, 2020, the chief allegedly transferred $10 000 to Tsalani Hwizimani (Tongaat logistics manager) while Taurai Mushonga, the dispatcher controller, allegedly received $8 000 and several others employees also allegedly got some credit from his BancABC account, Heritage branch in Harare.
When reached for comment, the traditional chief placed all the blame on his former manager whom he accused of being the architect of all these misdeeds. He said the manager (a lady) was out to soil his name while also accusing this reporter of having an affair with her.
“If I have become so powerful to the extent of running trucks without COFs for a whole year, then I should congratulate myself for even being more powerful than the president himself. Go back to bed and ask her again why those COFs were not on the trucks.
“Sorry, I’m so used to being attacked by journalists especially those who are inclined to opposition politics in Zimbabwe. Go write all that which will make your heart feel good. You behave as if you write on behalf of God,” said Murinye.
When further quizzed on the money he deposited into the accounts of Tongaat employees, he said there was nothing wrong with it.
“It’s nothing new that we have donated to Zimbabwe Sugar Sales (ZSS) employees and other structures. It’s not a secret, at times we buy them food just like most companies do.
“There’s nothing to bribe for because we already have a contract. We usually give them Christmas presents. This time we gave them early because I would be having serious financial commitments in December.”
Hwizimani confirmed receiving money from Chief Murinye, but said it was a debt the traditional chief was repaying.
“He was paying what he owed me. Sorry, I am not allowed to comment on something in my line of duty,” he said.
Mushonga could neither confirm nor deny the allegations, but said whatever you hear from Murinye is the correct version.
Tongaat corporate affairs manager Adelide Chikunguru could not be reached for comment as her phone went unanswered.