Calls For Stiffer Penalties On Drug Peddlers

LEGISLATORS have been urged to craft laws that will help arrest the continuous growing scourge of drugs and substance abuse and incriminate the use of new dangerous drugs that keep evolving.

Speaking to The Manica Post on the sidelines of a Junior Parliamentary Advocacy training held in the city recently, Criminal Investigation Department Drugs and Narcotics’ Manicaland’s member-in-charge, Detective Assistant Inspector Ndiudzei Mugawa, said there is need for lawmakers to regularly revise drug and dangerous substance laws as types of drugs evolve daily.

He said to help curb the scourge, lawmakers should also review fines and sentences for drug peddlers to make them hefty and lengthy respectively.

“We currently have a growing number of criminals being arrested peddling drugs on the streets or smuggling them into the country. It is sad to note that we have a challenge in terms of penal provision on our current legislation.

“The one that we currently have is very negligible as some of the offenders being arrested with huge consignments of drugs are being treated leniently and fined at court. Some of them are not receiving a custodial sentence,” he said.

Detective Assistant Inspector Mugawa said such sentences allow drug lords and peddlers to commit similar offences once they go back to the society after paying off the fines.

He said there is need for Government to adopt stiffer laws like those in Asian countries when it comes to drug and dangerous substance smuggling, peddling and abusing.

“I am advocating for such laws to be adopted in Zimbabwe so that we can minimise the scourge of drugs and substance abuse. Lengthy custodial sentences or hefty fines are the way to go as they will at least discourage drug peddling and smuggling in the country,” he said.

Detective Assistant Inspector Mugawa said there are a lot of new drugs on the market which are not included in the schedules of drugs in terms of the country’s laws.

He said one such drug is the residue of diapers being used by some drug abusers.

“If a drug is not included in the schedules of dangerous drugs and other related drug laws, it simply means that it is not a crime for someone to be found in possession of such a drug. As we speak, we have a chemical that is being produced from diapers and pampers residue. We do not have laws that govern it, but it has been going on for long. As a result we cannot arrest such people,” he said.

Also speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe Youth Council acting provincial manager, Mr Leonard Mukoko said there is need for junior parliamentarians to act as a conduit between young people and senior parliamentarians and raise such matters to enable the review of such legislatures.

“We thought it was prudent to engage junior parliamentarians in this discourse because they are the young people who interact with senior parliamentarians in various deliberations. They actually act as a conduit that links young people and duty bearers,” he said.

Mr Mukoko said if the legislature reviews laws concerning drugs and dangerous substances, gender based violence will also be reduced as drugs are a major contributor to the menace.

“In connection with gender-based violence, we are saying drug and substance abuse is one major contributor. We realised that capacitating young people will have a ripple effect in cleansing our communities so that we have a society that is fit and safe for our children, a reason why we are training them,” he said.

Mr Mukoko also said they managed to build stronger referral pathways between the junior parliamentarians and the police’s Drugs and Narcotics Unit, Department of Social Welfare as well as the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small to Medium Enterprises.

Smuggling of drugs cases continue to be on the rise in the country, with the latest being that of a Nigerian pastor, Desmond Onyii Onuoha (46) who was recently arrested at Victoria Falls Airport after being found in possession of more than two kilogrammes of cocaine stuffed in hats and jackets with a street value of $126 752 000.

Before that, two men from Bulawayo, Principal Mpofu (30) and Cosmos Mhodi (39) were also arrested by security agents at the Beitbridge Border Post while smuggling contraband of mbanje (marijuana/dagga) and prohibited cough syrup all with a combined value of $6,2 million

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