Windhoek — A Zimbabwean street vendor who makes a living selling cigarettes, air time and other items was sentenced to pay a fine of N$10 000 or 12 months imprisonment for overstaying his welcome in the country last week Thursday.
Ntando Baloyi pleaded guilty to a charge of contravening the Immigration Control Act, Act 7 of 1993 for remaining in Namibia after the expiration of his visitor's entry visa. Thirty-two-year-old Baloyi entered Namibia on July 14, 2011 on a 90-day visitor's visa and failed to return to Zimbabwe after the expiry date.
During submissions on sentencing, Baloyi informed Magistrate Hileni Kavara that he is single and has no children of his own, but that he supports his late brother and sister's children. He also told the magistrate that he is unemployed and came to Namibia in search of a better life. Asked why he stayed in Namibia after his visa expired and while he knew it was illegal to do so, he said the situation in Zimbabwe forced him to do so.
Baloyi asked the court to show him mercy and begged for a suspended sentence. He also apologised to the Namibian people for his transgression. Prosecutor Erich Naikaku told the magistrate that the offence is a serious one and is becoming quite prevalent in Namibia. He said while Baloyi is a first offender, Namibia's immigration laws are very clear and that the accused breached the law and the fact that he stayed in Namibia illegally for one year and six months comprises an aggravating factor.
He asked the court to consider giving Baloyi a fine of N$2 000 or six months in prison since he pleaded guilty without wasting the court's time. Kavari on the other hand wanted none of that and told Baloyi that he has no respect for the laws of Namibia and had he not been apprehended he would not have been standing in court. She said what makes matters worse is the fact that Baloyi overstayed for more than a year without detection.
Magistrate Kavari said that for a court to impose an appropriate sentence a balance of the circumstances of the offender, the crime committed and the interest of society blended with a degree of mercy should be achieved by the court. However, she said, the court takes the purposes of sentencing into consideration, which include deterrence, punishment, rehabilitation and retribution.
But she said in this instance the court will just focus on the element of deterrence and will pass a deterrent sentence. "The fact that you are a first offender does not mean that the court must exclude the element of punishment," the magistrate told Baloyi.
"To further ask for a suspended sentence, is having total disregard for the laws of this country as well as the courts, and the court has to take it upon itself to pass a sentence that will not only deter you, but any other would-be offender," the magistrate remarked before she sentenced Baloyi.