THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has sentenced two men who trafficked in 24 kilogrammes of cocaine from Tanzania to Zambia to eight years 10 months with hard labour. This was the same cocaine that went missing last August and six judiciary officers and two businessmen are appearing in court for allegedly trafficking the drugs. In this case, Sydney Mwansa, 35, an assistant Manager of Taqua Bus Services of Tanzania, Shaibu Likuta, 45, a Tanzanian bus conductor and Teddy Matanda, 37, a taxi driver of Lusaka’s Matero area, were charged with trafficking in 24 kilogrammes of cocaine but they pleaded not guilty.
In count one, the trio was charged with trafficking in 24 kg of cocaine without lawful authority. Mwansa and Likuta in count two were charged with importation of the drugs. In counts three, four and five, Mwansa possessed a house in Kamwala, New Kasama and motor vehicle while count six was in respect of Matanda who was accused of using his taxi to carry, conceal and convey drugs but was acquitted in both counts. They committed the offences between February 20 and 21, 2016 and have been in custody since 2016 when they were arrested.
Delivering judgment in the matter, High Court judge Kenneth Mulife, who sat as a magistrate, convicted Mwansa and Likuta and acquitted Matanda. He said the matter had been heard over three years due to several adjournments at the instance of the State and defence. Magistrate Mulife said Likuta carried four boxes on his Falcon bus from Tanzania and that the said boxes were intended to be delivered to Mwansa in Lusaka who was the sole owner of the house situated in Kamwala, and flats built on a plot in new Kasama and a motor vehicle. He said he was of the view that Likuta was fully aware that the four boxes he was carrying contained cocaine and that it was the reason why he tried to disassociate himself.
Magistrate Mulife said Likuta did not declare the four boxes he was transporting for clearance to custom officials at the point of exit.
He added that Mwansa was also aware that he would be receiving cocaine from Likuta, adding that Mwansa’s claim in defence that he was expecting motor vehicle spare parts, was also a scheme aimed at disassociating himself from the drugs.
Magistrate Mulife found that Mwansa and Likuta trafficked in the subject cocaine as alleged under the first count and that they also imported them in Zambia. As for Matanda, he said he found that he carried the drugs purely pursuant to his occupation as a taxi driver.
He said it would be demanding too much, expecting taxi drivers to be aware of the contents of the parcel they are carrying on behalf of their clients. And magistrate Mulife acquitted Mwansa of possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime. He said the State also failed to prove charges against Matanda ordering him to leave immediately. And after considering their mitigation, magistrate Mulife said the duo deserved to be punished because the offences were quite serious. He added that the huge quantities of cocaine was an aggravating factor and if left unchecked, the conduct would dent the society because of the effects of the drugs the duo was transacting in.
Magistrate Mulife jailed them eight years 10 months each in count one and two which would run concurrently from February 22, 2016, the date they were arrested.