The following is a letter that one of readers wrote to the The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) in response to unpleasant experiences at the hands of their officers and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP):
I would like to report two consecutive incidences that made me feel like I was being bullied by those who think they have the power to oppress others.
I am a Wits student so I fly often. The first incident was when I was with my pregnant sister who had come to SA to buy stuff for her baby. It was on XX November 2013, SAA flight that had left SA at 1930hrs.
After passport control we managed to get our luggage and because I had big bags ZIMRA people stopped us surprise surprise. We didn’t have receipts for the baby’s stuff only a tax statement listing the stuff since we had left them with SARS. They then told us to go to a room where x-x-x (name censored) (ZIMRA) lady acted like she was doing something but really they were telling us to open our bags. We didn’t want to keep our father waiting and feeling like we were being picked on we only opened my sister’s bag which only had the new things.
An argument then started and then a guy who used to work at Kariba came. He heard our surname and immediately called my father, who he knew. If I’m NOT mistaken he used to get bribes in BREAD during the economic depression. My father then came and they started acting like they had been nice to us. They told us we were allowed new things under $300 and since we were under that we left.
“Coincidentally” the police stopped us outside and said they also wanted to open our bags surprise surprise again. They then told us the duty free limit was $100 lower than what ZIMRA had told us. They then said we should go back inside with them, mind you everyone else had left.
They then made us go through the departures way and had to scan our bags and go through some door back to where we had been. The people scanning our bags continuously said “we are different departments, we don’t work with these guys” having seen that laws were being broken and didn’t want to be mentioned in my complaint.
The police now joined and insisted we open our bags. We gave them the permission to do so but they weren’t doing anything. All the while my pregnant sister was standing. We asked for their names because they said we could write a complaint if we wanted but they refused to give us their names.
One policeman and the Kariba ZIMRA guy went to a room and they talked about something. My dad then shook then policeman in the forefront of it all’s hand and they let us go just like that. We ended up leaving at midnight.
I’m NOT saying he accepted a bribe but that’s how money is usually passed on when people bribe the Police.
We were only allowed to leave the airport at midnight when everyone including employees had left.
The 2nd time I was coming from registration on the XX of January 2014 on SAA25, stopped by ZIMRA again I had two small bags. They opened my stuff and they didn’t find anything, again I was the last one to leave. Once I said I was on SAA she immediately told me to go to a room to be searched.
I am studying actuarial science and randomness is what we study. ZIMRA claims it picks people at random and seeing as it happened to me consecutively I highly doubt that paradigm is feasible because estimating the number of people on each flight and assuming randomness that you claim, the probability of me being picked twice is very close to 0, meaning its highly unlikely to happen in any normal system.
I am now forced to fly to Lusaka then drive to Kariba because of this bullying, this is another expense I have to incur just to avoid being bullied. How can the management allow the staff to treat people like this?
x-x-x (name censored)
Your turn; what are your thoughts on what this reader experienced and have you been through something similar at the hands of ZIMRA?