A Masvingo court told a senior citizen who was convicted of growing 127 mbanje plants in his garden that he was farming the dangerous drug on an industrial scale similar to Command Agriculture, but unfortunately he was growing the “wrong crop”.
Chavingira Chavingira (67) was slapped with a three-year jail term for his troubles when he appeared before Masvingo magistrate Mr Peter Madhibha last week.
Although he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years behind bars, 18 months were suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
In sentencing Chavingira, Mr Madhibha indicated that growing dangerous drugs was an unpardonable offence frowned at by the law.
“Considering your age, I had considered to giving you community service, but the quantity of your plants is too much,” he said.
“My calculations show that you were going to serve 127 000 people with each gramme, costing $1 and considering the small piece of land you used and the likely bumper harvest in the offing that was ‘Command Agriculture’ at its best, but you were growing the wrong crop.”
In mitigation, Chaviringa appealed for a non-custodial sentence, saying he looked after five orphans at his home.
Mr Madhibha dismissed his plea, saying it was unfair that thousands of people were suffering at the hands of the convict’s drugs, hence it was better for the five orphans to suffer while he spends time in prison.
Prosecutor Mr Edmond Mapope proved to the court that on March 30 this year, police detectives in Zaka received a tip-off that Chavingira was growing dagga for sale.
They arrived at his homestead and questioned him about the dagga.
He duly confessed and detectives went to his garden, where he was ordered to uproot the 127 plants that were found.
He was subsequently arrested and the plants were used in court as exhibit.