A MUTARE man was this week fined $4 500 for keeping more than one-and-a-half tonnes of roller-meal at his house in Hobhouse.
Tonderai Chiweshe (35) of Hobhouse 2 fell into the trap of a police undercover operation when he sold a 10kg bag for US$4 to an undercover police officer.
Chiweshe was arrested and appeared before senior Mutare magistrate, Mr Tendai Mahwe, facing charges of contravening 12(2) of the Public Health Act (SI 83 of 2020) (Covid-19 Prevention, containment and treatment) (National lockdown) Chapter 15:17, which criminalises the hoarding of food during the lockdown.
Mr Mahwe convicted Chiweshe and ordered him to pay $4 500 fine, failure of which he will spend four months in jail.
District public prosecutor, Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira told the court that the offence was committed on April 15.
“On the day in question at around 12pm, police officers received a tip-off to the effect that the accused person was selling subsidised roller-meal at his house,” he said.
“One of the cops quickly reacted to the information and bought a 10kg of Red Seal Roller Meal for US$4. A search was conducted at the premise and police recovered 153x10kg bags of roller-meal.”
Subsidised mealie-meal supplies have remained erratic across the country, with major supermarkets running out of the commodity, thereby forcing most consumers to access it on the black market.
The shortages have also turned some people into “professional queuers” as they hop from one supermarket to the other anticipating deliveries, either for own consumption or for the black market.
The re-introduction of subsidised mealie-meal by Government brought relief to most people as the commodity is pegged at $70, while it is selling for up to $100 on the black market.
But while the Government’s decision is noble, citizens are battling to access the product as it is in short supply.
In light of the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown, Manicaland’s Covid-19 district taskforces have resolved to sell the product in identified outlets in high-density suburbs in order to encourage social distancing through decongesting supermarkets and towns.
— Manica Post