Former Deputy Minister Terrence Mukupe has been given a custodial sentence of three years for criminally importing more than 138,000 litres of diesel in three tankers without paying duty.
The State compelled the court to consider a jail term of at least three years plus a fine of at least US$122 000, a penalty less than three times the duty payable in far more minor cases.
Mukupe was last week convicted along with drivers Sam Kapisoriso, Joseph Taderera and Leonard Mudzuto for unlawfully importing diesel without paying duty.
The four were sentenced to three and half years each with six months suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
In addition, the court slapped the quartet with a US$ 12,780 fine each, failure of which they serve another two years’ imprisonment.
The three drivers drove the tankers into Zimbabwe with diesel meant for the DRC but replaced the fuel with water in Zimbabwe. 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 of samples of the contents in the tankers was carried out, which later showed that the tankers contained water and not diesel.