Police are holding 12 suspects over the 349 missing containers at the Dar es Salaam Port, including high-ranking officials from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and several Salim Said Bakhresa Company Limited staff working at its Inland Container Depot (ICD).
The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Mr Diwani Athumani named five suspects saying the remaining seven their names will be revealed after investigations.
He named those in custody as Commissioner of Customs, Tiagi Masamaki (56) and TRA Assistant Manager at Customs Service, Habib Mponezya, Head of ICT Department Haruni Mpande , In-charge of the ICD, Eliaichi Mrema and Business Officer Hamis Ally Omary The DCI told reporters in Dar es Salaam that investigations on other seven suspects in connection with the matter are going on and that the names will be released after they are completed.
He said the suspects’ arrest follows investigations conducted by officers in the police financial crimes unit in collaboration with all institutions that in one way or another were linked with the scandal that has denied the government of billions of shillings in appropriate revenue.
Mr Athumani appealed to members of public who have got important information on those who are implicated in the container syndicate at the country’s major sea gateway as well as embezzlers of public property to report to the police.
However, he said, those who know that in one way or another are being involved in the scandal should surrender to the police before being tracked by the law enforcers.
The DCI said the suspects will appear in court after investigations are complete. Last week, the government suspended TRA Commissioner General, Rished Bade, and five other senior officials in the wake of the missing 349 containers valued at 80bn/-.
The move followed a surprise visit last week, by the Prime Minister, Mr Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa, to Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and that of the TRA and suspended Masamaki and Mponezya.
Other suspended officers – Mpande, Hamisi Ali Omari and Eliachi Mrema are being held by the police. He also directed the Inspector- General of Police (IGP) to apprehend all those implicated so that they can help with the investigations.
Their passports have already been confiscated and their wealth is now under audit. Mr Majaliwa had also directed the transfer of three employees from Dar es Salaam to an upcountry destination.
They are Anangisye Mtafya, Nsajigwa Mwandengele and Robert Nyoni. Earlier before the suspension, the TRA CG had admitted that containers got lost between the port and ICDs, particularly the Ubungo ICD.
Bade had said that in an investigation that he carried out in one ICD, he found 54 containers had been lost under mysterious circumstances. “In spite of that, we are continuing with the investigations.
The number has now reached 327. We are still following up on the matter and working with PCCB. The owner of the ICD has been fined 12.6bn/- and has already paid 2.4bn/-,” he had explained.
When asked by the premier if he has the names of the employees involved in the theft, Bade admitted that he had a list but he could not produce it immediately.
Mr Majaliwa then showed him a list showing there were 349 stolen containers with all the details, including licence plate numbers that carried the containers, which Bade agreed was correct.
It was at that juncture that the PM said that such a trend could not continue and that there was need to remove ‘rotten apples’ from the tax body hierarchy. He did exactly that.