The Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of Magistrate Morgan Nemadire for criminal abuse of office.
This comes after Nemadire fined a Venezuelan, Delcy Deymar Rodriguez Guererro, $700 for carrying 5kg cocaine worth US$469 000 in her luggage as she flew into Harare from Brazil in 2019.
The sentence on Guererro was lenient on the grounds that it was expensive to keep foreigners in local prisons and that she had complained of ill-health.
The ruling raised suspicions over why the magistrate was so lenient and this led to his arrest.
In a declaratory ruling on appeal, High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa observed that the trial court was too lenient with Guererro.
Justice Mutsakwa ruled that a declarator on the appropriate sentence was called for even though she had been deported. He said:
In that respect, a sentence of five years’ imprisonment should have been imposed.
The verdict of the lower court is set aside and substituted with… guilty of the main charge and not guilty of the alternative charge; the sentence is set aside and substituted with the following… five years’ imprisonment.
By the time Justice Mutsakwa delivered his ruling, the Venezuelan had already been deported, there being no additional grounds to hold her.