THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has handed down a nine months custodial sentence to Chito Chipimo for drag trafficking and unlawful use of motor vehicle to carry and conceal cocaine and amphetamine.
Meanwhile, his father, Elias Chipimo Jr has urged law enforcing agencies not to aim at securing convictions but to educate youths about the effects of engaging in illicit activities.
In this matter, Chito was facing charges of trafficking, possessing psychotropic substances and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
On January 15 this year, Chito admitted dealing in drugs and unlawfully using a motor vehicle to carry and conceal cocaine and amphetamine.
Chito told the court that the amphetamine was for use but he did not have lawful justification though he knew it was forbidden.
When the matter came up for trial before magistrate Albert Mwaba, Chito 23, of house number 2231 Kasangula Road, Roma township, who earlier denied the charges when he first appeared in court on December 31, 2019, changed plea and admitted trafficking psychotropic substances.
When asked about the use of the drugs, Chito said he was not really sure, claiming that someone else left the amphetamine in his car.
Before he could finish explaining, his lawyer disrupted his explanation as it was contrary to instructions.
Chito was advised not to give defensive statements as such would prompt the court to enter an equivocal plea (not guilty).
In the first count, Chito trafficked 1.43 grammes of cocaine on December 27, 2019 without lawful authority.
The 23-year-old on the same date had in his possession 0.11 grammes of amphetamine without lawful authority.
And in the third count, Chito on December 27, 2019 used a motor vehicle namely, Toyota Blade, registration number BAJ 9330, to carry, conceal and convey psychotropic substances without lawful authority.
Facts are that on December 26, 2019, Drug Enforcement Commission officers received information from an informer that a male person was dealing with drugs in Kabolunga area.
Acting on the said information, DEC officers rushed to Kabulonga at a named mall were Chito was found sitting in his car with the suspected drugs.
The officers asked Chito to surrender the illicit narcotic substances which he had in his possession.
Chito handed over a glass cup containing six satchets of suspected drugs.
The suspected narcotic substances were taken to the University Teaching Hospital food laboratory where it was confirmed to be cocaine and amphetamine.
During interrogations, Chito voluntarily admitted trafficking in drugs under warn and caution.
He was then formerly charged as he had no lawful authority to traffic, possess and use a motor vehicle.
When asked if the facts were true by masgistrate Albert Mwaba, the convict affirmed that the facts were true and he had nothing to add or subtract.
Masgistrate Mwaba found Chito guilty as charged and convicted him upon his own admission of guilt.
In his mitigation, the convict, through his lawyer, begged for the court’s leniency as he was 23-years-old and has ample time for reformation should the court consider giving him a second chance to society.
He said he had spent time in police custody from December 26, 2019 and had introspection of his life and learnt a lesson not to indulge in illegal activities.
Chito said he was very remorseful for his actions and to show such remorse, he had readily pleaded guilty and did not wasted the court’s time and scarce resources.
“The now convict is willing to undergo counselling to become a better citizen of the nation and contribute positively to the growth of the economy and sensitise his peers of the dangers of dealing in drugs,” he said.
“We urge the court to consider the weight of the drugs in question and pray that in meting out sentence, the court tampers justice with mercy and consider imposing a suspended sentence as opposed to a custodial sentence. He has never been charged with any similar offence. We pray that the court exercises leniency with the young convict.”
In his ruling, magistrate Mwaba said he considered the mitigation but cases of drug dealing were rampant hence the need to punish those who break the law.
“The offences to do with narcotics are a prevalence in our society hence the need to punish perpetrators and deter would be offenders,” said magistrate Mwaba.
“I now sentence you accordingly. Count one nine months imprisonment with hard labour, count two three months imprisonment with hard labour, count three six months imprisonment with hard labour to run concurrently.”
He further ordered that the drugs and the motor vehicle be forfeited to the State and granted the convict leave to appeal if he was aggrieved.
During sentencing, Chito had his head cast down as his family members worried and had their chins nestled in their palms, while his father was composed and followed the proceedings attentively.
And reacting to the nine months sentence slapped on his son, Chipimo Jr said the magistrate had exercised his discretion.
He said that it was painful to see a child go to jail for drug trafficking.
“I am just a father who loves his son and I can only wish him the very best and any parent that is going through something like this, my heart goes out to them because I know how painful it is. So I just urge everybody not to judge and just to offer their prayers and if there is anything that can be learnt from all of this. I hope that they will take a leaf from what has happened today and be encouraged,” said Chipimo Jr.
“It’s not easy being a young person in our society today, opportunities are limited and young people are not given enough understanding and I hope that this opportunity will be taken seriously even by law enforcement authorities. Our approach must be to love and to guide not to claim victory over putting young people in the cells. But this is the reality, my son is a man, he has taken full responsibility and I am very proud of him and I love him.”