UK based Zimbabwean caught with bags of sadza in his car is spared prison

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Police also arrested him on suspicion of supplying amphetamines after discovering a number of bags of white powder in the car. Analysis later showed the bags contained sadza, a kind of maize flour porridge popular in parts of Africa, and the charges were dropped.

Tinashe Ndongwe

A judge questioned why a dangerous driver who binged on booze and cannabis the night before crashing his Ford Fiesta on the A419 was not charged with drink driving.

Judge Jason Taylor QC said Tinashe Ndongwe had been lucky on two counts after he walked from the crash without injury.

Handing the 26-year-old a two-year community order and a 12-month driving ban, he said: “You can consider yourself extremely fortunate, first for not being charged with excess alcohol, which in my view you should have been and would have affected sentence in the next 10 years should you have been foolish enough to do it again. But also in not being injured in what was a high speed crash.”

Swindon Crown Court heard Ndongwe was behind the wheel of a silver Ford on the morning of February 3. He had finished drinking and smoking cannabis with friends in Manchester at 2am, leaving the city at 5am to make the 220-mile trip to Southampton.

Another driver spotted the Ford on the A417 at Birdlip and followed it for 15 to 21 miles. He saw the car accelerate up to cars in front four or five times then brake quickly. The Ford was also swerving in its lane and straying onto the rumble strips.

He felt something was wrong and had already made up his mind to phone the police when he stopped.

But in the end he did not get to make the call. On the A419 southbound between Cricklade and Blunsdon at around 9.30am, Ndongwe accelerated up to a Range Rover in the outside lane. He appeared to try and turn into the inside lane in order to undertake the 4×4. He hit the back of another vehicle and swerved off the road into a hedge.

The driver who had followed from Gloucestershire stopped by the side of the road and, joined by another driver, pulled Ndongwe from his car through the boot.

The Ford driver blew over the drink drive limit at the roadside and also tested positive for cannabis. A level of 38mcg was later recorded on the police station breathalyser, slightly above the limit of 35.

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The suspected drugs, which turned out to be a kind of maize flour porridge Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Police also arrested him on suspicion of supplying amphetamines after discovering a number of bags of white powder in the car. Analysis later showed the bags contained sadza, a kind of maize flour porridge popular in parts of Africa, and the charges were dropped.

Prosecutor Virginia Cornwall said: “This was a prolonged course of bad driving, looking at the evidence of the driver who followed him for 15 to 20 miles while it would seem he was driving aggressively behind other vehicles and there was accordingly disregard for the safety of others.”

Ndongwe, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.

Kassia Pletscher, defending, said her client was young, had a university degree in software engineering and had the potential to enjoy a very promising career. The probation service considered his risk of reoffending to be low.

The five weeks he had spent behind bars on remand had been a shock to him. “If he hadn’t already learned his lesson then he certainly has now because he knows what the consequences can be if he makes these kind of poor decisions in the future.”

Judge Taylor acknowledged that Ndongwe was a young man, saying he did not wish to blight his future any more than was necessary. He imposed a two year community order with 220 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation activity days. He must pass an extended re-test if he wants his licence back after his 12 month ban. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs.

The judge added: “You need to understand if you come back before the court for any driving offence then this is going to be on your record for everyone to see.”

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