President and founder of Fountain of Victory Ministries International Apostle Joseph Ziba and Taezib Aziz Monday pleaded not guilty to all the five counts they are answering surrounding tax evasion.
The Man of God was arrested on Wednesday last week alongside Aziz for allegedly refusing to pay taxes and fines levied to Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) on a multimillion kwacha Range Rover.
Ziba says Aziz sold him the vehicle after convincing him that all taxes had been paid for.
Aziz who is the first accused in the case, is answering two counts of failure to comply with Customs Laws and one of using falsified documents so as to deceive. While Ziba is answering two counts of failure to comply with Customs Laws and another one of using falsified documents so as to deceive.
Last Friday Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza allowed MRA to have Ziba and Aziz tried together saying their counts were similar.
Ziba, pleaded, ‘not guilty’ as the counts were being read to him.
The state led by Anthony Chumbu asked the court for seven days to file and serve the defence with all the disclosures before they could start parading their witnesses to prove the case.
Aziz’s lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta did not object to the application but asked for more days to go through the disclosures once they are served while Ziba’s lawyer, Wanangwa Hara, did not say anything throughout the hearing.
Senior Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba adjourned the matter to April 13 but advised the two parties to engage each other and if possible resolve the matter outside the court.
“In this case what is at stake is government’s money so my ruling should not stop the two parties from engaging each other. You are at liberty to engage each other and the court is flexible with that,” he said.
A statement from MRA dated March 15, 2018 said its investigations revealed that Ziba failed to comply with customs laws by being found in possession of goods subject to customs control, a 2014 Range Rover Sport Registration Number TO 8368 thereby defrauding government its legitimate revenue.
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