Last week three Gweru youngsters who decided not to join other hardened criminals like burglars and robbers, choosing rather to pan for gold, were sentenced to five years after being found in possession of gold.
What pained most people is that the trio was nabbed with gold only worth $15, and intended to split the money among five of them. Two others took to their heels and escaped when members of the ZRP Minerals Unit closed on them in Daylesford suburb.
Gold possession attracts no less than five years, while gold panning gets you 24 months behind bars.
Early this week 29 year old Isaac Dingo, who resides at 16 Claymont Road in the same suburb was found in possession of 2,08 grams of gold but without a licence to deal in precious minerals. He will also spend the next 5 years behind bars after he was convicted by Magistrate Shortgame Musaiona.
As I write, another youth has just been taken to Gweru Provincial Hospital after he collapsed at the court cells while awaiting sentence for being found in possession of gold worth $1,50. That’s right – one dollar fifty!!! Even the most ‘considerate’ magistrate will send him to prison for 5 years. That’s the law!
Magistrate Gertrude Mayenyose recently tried to fine a convict who was supposed to get a 9-year mandatory sentence for stock theft, and that ‘consideration’ cost her her job. When she came back from maternity leave, her letter of dismissal, signed by Chief Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe was handed to her by Provincial Magistrate-In-Charge (Midlands) Pathekile Msipa.
Even Bulawayo High Court judge Nokuthula Moyo who reviewed the case ordered the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) to investigate the convict’s attorney, Tonderai Chitere for ‘possibly attempting to defeat the course of justice”!!!
These mandatory sentences, how did they come up with them?
Novelist Charles Dickens correctly observed in Oliver Twist, I now admit: “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is an ass — an idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”
I am not advocating for offenders to go scot-free, but mbanje dealers who are caught peddling the drug, especially in minute quantities, have exactly done that…being let go after paying laughable fines. Should we conclude that it is because some cops and lawmakers love the stuff, and have been seen buying the drug themselves?
Why not let those who are nabbed with a few milligrams of gold pay fine instead? Taking into account that the current year is 2015 plus 5 years…2020…all because of $1.50?