Director Escapes Jail By a Whisker

The Director of Celestica Investments (Private) limited, trading as TICC Pharmaceuticals Wholesalers, last week escaped jail by a whisker after he was fined $1 100 for selling counterfeit and unregistered medicines worth $500 000.

Teddy Kuda Chindedza (37) was facing charges of contravening the Medicine and Allied Substances Control Act (selling medicines from unlicensed premises, unauthorised possession of Part IV drugs and possessing unregistered medicines for sale) when he appeared before Harare magistrate Mrs Babra Mateko.

Mrs Mateko sentenced Chindedza to 30 months in jail which were wholly suspended on condition of good behaviour

In addition to the fine, Chindedza was ordered to perform 310 hours of community service.

In mitigation, Chindedza’s lawyer, Mr Charles Chikore, told the court that his client was married with two children to look after.

He said Chindedza was a first offender and a pharmacist by profession, and had immovable assets.

“The accused person pleaded guilty and did not waste the court’s time,” he said.

He further stated that the majority of the drugs were registered and only a few were not.

He said his client’s case should not be equated to where an accused person was caught with unregistered drugs.

“Imprisonment would harden the accused person since he is a first offender,” said Mr Chikore.

He said cases of this nature should not be treated harshly before considering a lenient sentence.

In aggravation, the State told the court that cases of this nature were on the increase and a custodial sentence would be appropriate to send a warning to would-be offenders.

The court heard that on March 26 detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (drugs and narcotics northern region) teamed up with inspectors from Medicine Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) and visited a warehouse operated by Chindedza in Waterfalls after receiving information to the effect that he was supplying counterfeit and unregistered medicines to pharmacies in and around Harare.

Upon arrival, some of the employees tried to deny them access to the premises, prompting detectives and inspectors from MCAZ to force entry into the premises.

An inspection was conducted inside the premises by detectives and the inspectors, who discovered that the accused person was operating a backyard warehouse which contained various medicines.

The team recovered registered and unregistered drugs.

The court heard that further investigations revealed that the warehouse was not licensed as required by statutory regulations prompting seizure of the medicines.

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