via Chinese sentenced to 10 years in prison – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 25, 2015
HARARE magistrate Tendai Mahwe yesterday sentenced a Chinese national, Li Chengping (57), to an effective 10 years in prison for illegally possessing gold and emeralds despite the defence counsel’s spirited efforts to have the convict spared a jail term.
by PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Chengping was arrested at Harare International Airport on November 17 this year while on his way to China in possession of 2,94 grammes of gold valued at $105,70 and three pieces of emeralds valued at $240,70 without being a holder of a licence or permit which allows him to deal in the minerals.
Mahwe, in sentencing Chengping, said he applied his mind to the law and the circumstances of the convict.
“After taking into consideration all the factors, for possession of gold, you are sentenced to five years in prison, and for the second count of emeralds possession, you are sentenced to another five years. This effectively makes them 10 years in prison,” Mahwe said.
“I take that you broke the law while being aware of what it says about minerals since you are involved in mining at Zvishavane.”
Breach of the Minerals Act attracts a custodial sentence within the statute.
Chengping’s lawyer Tich Muhonde had last Friday implored the court to be lenient with his client, whom he said was a first offender, and sentence him to a fine equivalent to double the value of the minerals found on him.
Muhonde had argued that the fact that he pleaded guilty was a special reason why he should not be given a custodial sentence in addition to being a first offender.
“The accused is a foreigner, unsophisticated and non-conversant with the mineral laws of this country, who intended to use these stones as souvenirs. This, coupled with the negligible value of the emeralds and gold, should weigh in his favour,” he said.