A 23-year-old Zimbabwean man this Friday surprised the Urban Customary Court when he said that he came all the way from Harare, Zimbabwe, to sell dagga in Botswana.
Dingaan Juma, who is unemployed, was arraigned before Urban Customary Court President, Kgosi Dikwalo Monametsi, who he told his mission was to sell dagga to buy food for his starving family since his father passed away a long time ago.
He pleaded guilty to the charges of unlawful possession of dagga, weighting 302.5 grams.
According to the evidence given to the Urban Customary Court by Constable Thatayaone Mabhangu of Central Police Station, Juma was spotted by the Central Police Patrolling Team as he stood under a tree at Extention 11.The Stop and Search team approached him and found 302.5 grams of dagga in a black bag he was carrying.
Constable Mabhangu produced the dagga in court as evidence along with an affidavit confirming the weight of the drug.
Kgosi Monametsi told the court that he did not understand how someone could come all the way from Harare to sell an illegal drug in Botswana. Monametsi wondered how Juma had managed to cross the border with the drug. He conceded that Botswana was losing the battle against dagga abuse although they are always meting out stiff sentences to send a strong message to would be abusers.
In mitigation, Juma asked the court to show mercy saying his sisters, mother, wife and children back home would suffer while he was in jail. He told the court that he sold dagga because his family is dying of hunger in Zimbabwe.
Kgosi Monametsi responded saying, according to the penal code, any person found in possession of dagga faces a jail term of three years in addition to a P1000 spot fine. He said there was no suspended sentence for possession of dagga and told the court that he was going to be merciful because Juma was a first offender.
He directed that the dagga be burned in front of him.
In addition to five strokes on the bum, Juma was ordered to pay P150 court fine by October 31, 2006, failing which he would go to jail for six months.