Call for stiffer penalties on drug offenders

BY VANESSA GONYE

POLICE have bemoaned loopholes in the Judiciary which have seen some serious offenders being given light sentences, making it difficult for the law enforcers to be diligent in their work.

Speaking before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care last week, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga said police were doing their best to apprehend criminals who would in turn be released on light sentences.

He was giving oral evidence on progress made by police in dealing with drug abuse that is rampant on the country’s streets.

“We feel cheated and let down by these light sentences being given to drug offenders because we are working so hard to fight drug abuse and drug trafficking,” he said.

Matanga, who gave two examples of international drug traffickers, expressed concern over the differences in sentencing given the quantity of drugs involved.

“We received information from Interpol Brazil that there was a person with dangerous drugs on a flight to Zimbabwe en-route to another country, it was a lady with 7kg of cocaine and she was convicted and given a fine of RTGS$700. Another foreign national, a Venezuelan had a kilogramme of cocaine and was sentenced to 10 years in prison,” He said.

He implored Parliament to come up with stiffer penalties so as to discourage continued drug use which is common among adolescent girls and jobless youth.

“Drug abuse is more common in closed set-ups like schools, we can’t arrest them, but you will be shocked to know that our daughters are the most abusers of drugs, especially those from low-density suburbs who enjoy a lot of monetary privileges.

“We are operating under difficult situations as well, at the end of the day the issue of resources comes into play; I cannot send my officers out without proper resources including motor vehicles and motorbikes so that they are easily mobile,” Matanga said while responding to a question on why police take long to attend to crime scenes.

Speaking before the same committee, Home Affairs ministry secretary Melusi Matshiya said they were in the process of putting in place strict measures to ensure
a reduction in cases of drug smuggling and abuse, with the former being a result of porous borders allow for smuggling of drugs.

Last year, Zimbabwe recorded 7 659 cases related to drugs, while the period up to March this year saw 1 965 cases being handled by the police.

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