TWO men have been sentenced to a combined 30 months in prison for illegally cultivating mbanje in their respective gardens.
Josiah Dlodlo (42) of Kukunda village in Shangani was found with 56 plants with a length of 52 centimetres in his garden while Melusi Sibanda (18) of Kensington area in the outskirts of Bulawayo was found with seven plants of dagga with a length of about 30 to 60 centimetres.
The men pleaded guilty to unlawful cultivation of dangerous drugs when they appeared separately before Bulawayo magistrate, Ms Nomasiko Ndlovu.
The magistrate convicted and sentenced them to a combined 30 months in prison.
In passing sentence, Ms Ndlovu considered that both men were first offenders who pleaded guilty to the charges and did not waste the court’s time.
She sentenced Dlodlo to 18 months in prison and suspended six months for five years on condition that he does not commit a similar offence within that period.
The remaining 12 months were suspended on condition that he performs 420 hours of community service.
Sibanda was sentenced to 12 months in prison and six months were suspended for five years on condition that he does commit a similar offence within that period.
The other six months were suspended on condition that he performs 175 hours of community service.
Dlodlo told the court that he planted dagga for medicinal use.
“I did this out of my illness and for my family’s survival. I heard that it is good medicine for treating chest and kidney problems. My wife suffers from BP, and one of my four children is asthmatic. I heard that once the plants grow to a certain length, I can pluck out the leaves and prepare medicine which will help my wife and child,” he said.
According to court papers, on Thursday last week at around 8AM, police from Shangani base received information that Dlodlo was growing dagga plants in his garden.
The police proceeded to his house where they found Dlodlo who admitted that he was growing the plants only to help his family.
He led police officers to his garden where the plants were uprooted and taken to ZimPost in Shangani for measurement.
A weight certificate was compiled and produced in court as an exhibit.
The court papers further state that on Tuesday this week, police officers from Hillside Police Station received information that Sibanda was growing dagga in his garden at his place of residence.
The police proceeded to Sibanda’s house and found seven plants measuring between 30 and 60 centimetres tall.
The plants were uprooted and taken to CID drugs where they were measured.
Sibanda was later arrested.