Former Finance Deputy Minister Terrence Mukupe has been handed a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for fraud, with High Court Judge Benjamin Chikowero also imposing a US$12,780 fine on Mukupe for defrauding the state of US$55,591-60 in import duty.
The charges stemmed from Mukupe’s smuggling of 189,979 liters of fuel from Mozambique, which he falsely claimed was in transit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Mukupe and his accomplices sold the fuel in Zimbabwe and then replaced it with water before being apprehended at Chirundu Border Post three days later.
Judge Chikowero suspended six months of Mukupe’s sentence on the condition of good behaviour, resulting in an effective three-year jail term. Mukupe’s accomplices, Sam Kapisoriso, Joseph Taderera, and Leonard Mudzuto, also received similar sentences.
In determining the appropriate sentence, Judge Chikowero took into account Mukupe’s family circumstances, including having 10 children with the eldest being 14 years old, as well as his employment of 102 individuals.
The judge expressed surprise at the seven-year delay in bringing the matter to trial, considering it a simple and straightforward case. He noted that the sentence would have been different if the matter had been resolved earlier.
Judge Chikowero emphasized that the convicted individuals had benefited from the offence, as ZIMRA was unable to recover the actual diesel fuel, only the duty owed. He further characterized the offence as the work of an organized syndicate, stating that organized criminals do not respect national borders. The judge also criticized the incident for tarnishing ZIMRA’s reputation as a corrupt institution.
The case of Terrence Mukupe and his accomplices serves as a reminder of the consequences of fraudulent activities and the importance of timely and efficient legal processes. The judgment handed down by Judge Chikowero reflects both the severity of the offence and considerations of the defendants’ personal circumstances.