By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
FIVE Kariba men were arrested last week and dragged to court for smuggling an assortment of skin lightening creams and tablets worth US$5 437.
The smugglers, brothers Obey (27), and Edward Vushe (34), Tatenda Manhenga (23), Brighton Napera (30) and Admire Ravhu (27), who were facing charges of contravening Section 182 of the Customs and Excise Act chapter 23:02, were slapped with a six-month imprisonment each.
Magistrate Tafadzwa Mhlanga, however, gave the convicts an option to pay $50 000 fine each.
In passing sentence, Mhlanga decried the prevalence of racketeering across the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
He noted that unscrupulous individuals were using illegal routes to sneak-in prohibited goods into the country.
The harsh sentence was a deterrent to curb the vice, the magistrate added.
The state case, led by Phillip Urayai was that on 4 March this year, the accused persons connived to smuggle the contraband consisting of various kinds of skin bleaching creams and tablets, among other commodities, which they loaded into two speed boats.
At around 4 am, the Zimbabwe National Parks (ZimParks) rangers, who were deployed at the Cutty Sark harbour, Kariba intercepted the gang members offloading the goods from the boat and putting them into an unmarked Isuzu ELF150 truck and a Nissan Caravan omnibus.
This led to their arrest and recovery of goods worth US$5 437 which were forfeited to the state.