The flamboyant Apostle Joseph Ziba was Thursday released on bail by the Blantyre Senior Resident Magistrate Court and ordered to surrender his travel documents to the court.
Ziba, who is founder and leader of Fountain of Victory Ministries International, was arrested on Wednesday on the charge of being found in possession of property which is subject to customs control.
Tax authorities accuse the man of God of refusing to pay duty and fines amounting to K26 million on a 2014 Range Rover Sport registration Number TO 8368 he bought from Taezib Aziz.
Police arrested the Blantyre-based businessman, Taezib Aziz and not Tayub Aziz as we gathered from sources and reported in our earlier story.
Ziba was not present in court but was represented by his lawyer Wanangwa Hara who argued for his bail.
The State did not object to the bail application but asked for tough conditions including payment of K1 million bail bond which Hara contested, saying it was punitive.
Senior Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba granted Ziba the bail and agreed to reduce the bail bond from K1 million to K200,000.
“The accused should surrender his travel documents and, if he wants to travel outside the country, he should make application to this court where MRA [Malawi Revenue Authority] will also have to be heard,” Nyimba said.
After the ruling, another battle over custody of the Range Rover, as the case continues, ensued between the MRA and Ziba’s lawyer.
But Nyimba refused to be drawn into the matter which, he said was civil in nature, saying it was being handled by another court of similar jurisdiction.
“If MRA wants any changes to the order or if they want it set aside, they should go to the Magistrates’ Court in Limbe which issued the initial order on the matter. We have the same jurisdiction and I do not want to be seen to usurp a ruling of my fellow magistrate,” he said.
Hara declined to comment on the matter, saying the church would issue a statement later in the day.
Later in the afternoon, Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza granted bail to Aziz, who is being represented by Michael Goba Chipeta. He also paid a bail bond of K200,000. He was also ordered to surrender his travel documents to the courts and appear in court on Monday for plea taking.
But in a statement Thursday, MRA said that their investigation revealed that Ziba failed to comply with customs laws, thereby defrauding the government legitimate revenue.
“The vehicle does not appear in MRA Asycuda system. The customs documents which were presented to the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services to register the vehicle were not for the aforesaid motor vehicle.
“The investigations revealed that in or around March 2017, Aziz, with intent to deceive, used a Customs Clearance Certificate of another vehicle to register a Range Rover Sport with the Directorate,” reads the statement in part.
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