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Ex-Deputy Minister Terrence Mukupe jailed 3 years for diesel smuggling

Zimbabwe’s former Deputy Minister of Finance Terrence Mukupe who was convicted of smuggling fuel was yesterday sentenced to three years six months imprisonment by the High Court.

Mukupe was also fined US$12 780 failure to pay will mean the addition of another two year jail term.

High Court judge justice Benjamin Chikowero suspended six months on condition of good behaviour meaning Mukupe will serve three years effective jail term.

Mukupe is accused of smuggling 138 979 litres of diesel.

He was being charged together with Same Kapisoriso, Joseph Taderera and Leonard Mudzuto who were also given similar sentences.

In sentencing them Justice Chikowero ruled that the convicts acted together by loading water into the tankers before they depart for Chirundu Border Post.

He said in coming up with an appropriate sentence, he considered that Mukupe has 10 children with the eldest 14 years of age and that he also employed 102 individuals.

Justice Chikowero said he was surprised that the matter took seven years to come to trial despite the fact that it was a simple and straightforward matter.

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“Although Zimra managed to recover its duty, the accused cannot take credit for paying the duty later because the offence was already executed in detail,” Justice Chikowero said.

The judge said the accused person benefited from the offence as Zimra did not recover the diesel except the duty.

“The diesel was not for personal use but for selling. The offence was committed by an organized syndicate and an organized criminals do not respect the borders of any country. This offence tainted Zimra as a corrupt institution,” Justice Chikowero said.

The state represented by Whisper Mabhaudi and Lovet Masuku had called Zimra official Washington Taringa to explain the implications caused by the accused person and his accomplices in smuggling the fuel.

Taringa had submitted that Zimra has targets which are set by the state and these targets need to be met saying when there is transit fraud it means that Zimra won’t meet that target.

The court heard that on January 27, 2017 at Forbes Border Post on Mutare, the four connived to unlawfully import diesel without paying duty.

The four then misrepresented that the diesel was going to be offloaded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Pursuant to their plan, they replaced the diesel with water in Zimbabwe.

The matter came to light on January 30, 2017 when officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) intercepted them at Chirundu One Stop Border Post to verify the nature of the goods they were carrying.

The state said in so doing the accused persons prejudiced the State of revenue amounting to US$55 591-60.