The Musina Regional Court sentenced Loveness Mbele (31), Lodrick Chidhakwa (34) and Tongai Mpofu (33) Zimbabwean nationals for possession and importation of explosives.
The accused were arrested on 11 January 2022 at Beitbridge in Musina. The three accused came in South Africa without being in possession of travelling documents.
They also did not pass through the Beitbridge port of entry and were not examined by an immigration officer. Mbele admitted to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) that the explosives belong to her, and that Lodrick and Tongai only offered their assistance to carry the bags of explosives as she had difficulty and in return for payment.
The bags contained six reels of detonating cord, fifty units of blasting cartridges and sixty-five units of connector capped fuses. On 03 March 2022, Mbele pleaded guilty to two counts related to the smuggling of explosives and immigration offences. Chidhakwa and Mpofu also pleaded guilty on charges of illegal immigration.
In aggravation of sentence, state advocate Patricia Dorothy Jacobs indicated to the court that the offences were serious, that illegal dealing in explosives had seriously increased and that syndicate kingpins use young ladies with small children as mules, in an attempt to get the court’s sympathy.
The accused and like-minded persons should be prevented from bringing explosives to South Africa. She further submitted that immigrants have little to no regard for the laws of South Africa. Further the country faces a big economic crisis and is barely keeping up with its own residents’ basic needs.
The court agreed with the submission of the state. Mbele is sentenced to ten years direct imprisonment for the possession of explosives, ten years for importing explosives and R5000.00 or three months imprisonment on a count of illegal immigration.
Mbele’s sentence was ordered to run concurrently with the main count of 10 years direct imprisonment. Chidhakwa and Mpofu were sentenced to three months direct imprisonment or pay fine of R5000 each.
The NPA welcomes the sentence and the DPP Advocate Ivy Thenga commends the good work of SANDF in Musina and Advocate Jacobs for a sterling job.