FORMER deputy finance minister Terrence Mukupe has been sentenced to three years in prison by High Court judge, Justice Benjamin Chikowero following his conviction for fraud.
Mukupe was initially jailed for three and half years before six months were suspended on condition of good behaviour leaving him to serve three years effectively.
He was also fined US$2 780 with risk of serving two more years if he fails to pay.
His accomplices Same Kapisoriso, Joseph Taderera and Leonard Mudzuto were also given similar sentences.
In sentencing the four, the judge said this was a planned offence.
The judge however took into consideration that the trio spent a very long time waiting for their trial which was delayed.
He said the State did not explain why and this has put them in anxiety as they waited for their fate.
“The anguish and anxiety was akin to some kind of mental prison.
“Had they been brought to trial in or about 2017, the sentence would’ve been remarkably different.
“Had they been brought to trial timeously they would’ve finished any sentence imposed on them. It was common cause that it was not the accused who had paid the fine. While the financial prejudice to Zimra was cured, the accused cannot take credit for that,” said the judge.
“The first accused (Mukupe) floundered his political clout. They brought the diesel into the country, the court has not considered the 37 000 litres loaded into Ngonidzashe Mutsvene’s truck.
“Had the fuel been recovered the State indicated that they would’ve applied for its forfeiture,” said the judge.
Chikowore said it was clear the fuel was for either resale or some other business use.
“The value of the goods was substantial.
“The offense was committed by an organised criminal group. It was extra-territorial. Countering extra-territorial criminal activity is not the obligation of one country. This court will be mindful of this to deter not only like-minded Zimbabweans but foreigners,” he said before sentencing Mukupe and his accomplices.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) proved that the quartet smuggled a tanker filled with 138 979 litres of diesel into the country without paying duty in 2017.
The tanker was intercepted by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) officials at the Chirundu border post leading to the arrest of the four.
They were facing fraud charges and an alternative charge of contravening section 174(1) of the Customs and Excise Act (false declaration).