The two Zimbabwean truck drivers who have been rotting in a Namibian jail since May last year have been fined about $6 500 each or 13 years in jail for smuggling contraband cigarettes.
They were convicted in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court for smuggling a consignment of cigarettes worth over $700 000. Lyson Malangiza, 35, and Trust Marudza, 46, were each fined $6 500 each for both smuggling and money laundering.
Malangiza and Marudza were charged with smuggling after they were arrested on the evening of May 6 last year. The two trucks they were driving were together carrying boxes of cigarettes worth over $700 000. The cigarettes were concealed in secret compartments in the trucks designed to transport liquefied natural gas.
Customs officials seized both the trucks and their illicit cargo consisting of 1 130 boxes of cigarettes after having searched and found the cigarette boxes that were concealed in the fuel tankers headed for South Africa
During judgement on Friday which led to their sentencing, the court agreed with the submission of the regional court prosecutor that Malangiza and Marudza must have known of the cigarette consignment because of the suspicious activities surrounding their trip, and that a lot of issues came out during trial.
In handing down the sentence the court took into account the offenders’ personal circumstances, that one of the offenders is diabetic and that both men have people to care for back home. The two will remain in prison and will be released once they pay the fine.
The confiscated cigarettes together with the Volvo and Scania trucks that were used to smuggle the cigarettes will be auctioned by the state on March 24 in Rundu.