Former deputy minister Mukupe sentenced to three years in prison for smuggling fuel


HARARE – Terrence Mukupe, the former deputy finance minister, has been sentenced to an effective three-year jail term and fined US$12 780 by High Court judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero for smuggling 138 000 liters of diesel without paying duty. He was also slapped with a fine of US$2 780, with risk of serving two more years should he fail to pay.

Terrence Mukupe former deputy minister sentenced to three years in fraud case where he smuggled fuel
Terrence Mukupe sentenced to three years imprisonment in fuel smuggling case

Mukupe’s initial sentence was for three and half years, before six months were suspended on condition of good behaviour.

Mukupe’s three accomplices, truck drivers Same Kapisoriso, Joseph Taderera and Leonard Mudzuto were given similar sentences, as the judge, in passing the sentence, ruled that their offence was a planned one.

Terrence Mukupe and his accomplices were convicted on 8 November of unlawfully importing diesel destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo, but replacing the diesel with water in Zimbabwe.

Although the judge ruled that this was a planned offence, he expressed concern over the fact that the trio spent a protracted time waiting for their trial to commence. 

Chikowero J stated that he failed to understand why the State opted to subject the trio to such delays and crippling anxiety, saying the prosecution needed to expedite their trial.

He said had the trial been handled earlier, the outcome would have been different.

“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 Justice Chikowero.

He said Mukupe had abused his political influence and that the fuel was intended for resale or some other business use.

“The first accused (Mukupe) flaunted 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.

“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.”

The four were facing fraud charges and an alternative charge of contravening section 174(1) of the Customs and Excise Act (making a false declaration).

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) proved that the quartet smuggled a tanker filled with 138 979 litres of diesel into Zimbabwe without paying duty in 2017.

They crossed into the country via Forbes Border Post on January 26, 2017, driving tankers from Beira, Mozambique, which were earmarked for the DRC.

However a physical examination at Chirundu Border Post on January 31 revealed that the tankers contained water and not diesel.

The tanker was intercepted by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) officials, leading to the arrest of the four men.

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