THE High Court yesterday postponed the sentencing of former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development Terrence Mukupe and three accomplices until November 16 following their conviction for importing more than 138 000 litres of diesel in three tankers without paying duty.
The State has argued that the sentence should, under the new sentencing guidelines, include a jail term of at least three years plus a fine of at least US$122 000, which is less than three times the duty payable, the level that might be the fine in far more minor cases.
Mukupe was on Wednesday convicted along with drivers Sam Kapisoriso, Joseph Taderera and Leonard Mudzuto for unlawfully importing diesel without paying duty.
The three drivers drove the tankers into Zimbabwe with diesel meant for the DRC, but replaced the fuel with water in Zimbabwe.
After hearing submissions from the defence and prosecution in mitigation and aggravation, Justice Benjamin Chikowero deferred sentencing to next week to consider issues raised.
The judge also noted the new sentencing guidelines require the court to write a sentencing judgment, as the law now obliges judicial officers to consider the impact of crimes on the victims.
The new guidelines gave birth to the concept of victim participatory rights. This is because at this stage of a criminal trial, what victims are most concerned with is the punishment because it is sentencing which vindicates their suffering.
Therefore, the court cannot purport to arrive at an appropriate sentence without hearing the victim, bearing in mind that the impact of a crime on a victim may be physical, social, psychological or financial.
In this case, Zimra is a victim and yesterday an official from Zimra was called to testify on the impact the crime committed by Mukupe and his accomplices had on the revenue authority. According to a recent High Court ruling, a sentencing judgment must resolve the contest as to what punishment the court must impose.
The sentencing judgment consolidates all the information presented and all the evidence tendered during the pre-sentencing hearing inquiry. It is a self-contained stage which standing alone must be capable of informing, in summary terms, any interested person of what happened in the case and what led to the offender getting the punishment which was imposed on them.
After conviction, Mukupe and his accomplices lost bail and are in custody pending sentence.
Mukupe and his accomplices were arrested in February 2017 and charged with fraud as defined in the Criminal Law or alternatively contravening Section 174(1) (e) of the Customs and Excise Act with a false declaration.
The court heard that on January 26, 2017, Kapisoriso, Mutsvene and Taderera entered the country through Forbes Border Post, driving tankers with diesel from Beira marked as being en-route to the DRC.
While in Zimbabwe the three truck drivers allegedly connived with Mukupe to empty the diesel and replace it with water.
Upon arrival at Chirundu Border Post on January 31 as they proceeded to the DRC, a physical examination on samples of the contents in the tankers was carried out, which later showed that the tankers contained water and not diesel.-Herald