Zimbabwe: Cocaine Mule Collapses After 10-Year Jail Term

15 September 2021

The South African drug mule caught with almost US$8 million of cocaine as she entered Zimbabwe to sell it wept uncontrollably and collapsed in court after Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi committed her to an effective 10 years in jail.

Shila Khumalo (50) of Johannesburg, was shocked as the Chief Magistrate read her sentence, and burst into tears before collapsing, hitting her head hard on the ground.

Court officials, including prosecutors and prison officers, applied first aid and she recovered enough to be led down the cells in the lower levels of the Harare Magistrates Court.

Instead of going by truck to prison, a Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services ambulance came and ferried her to a prison hospital.

Mr Mutevedzi, who had initially jailed Khumalo to 12 years before suspending two years on good behaviour said the attempt to smuggle the drug was a particularly bad case and her determination in committing the offence puts beyond question that her first brush with the law is right at the deepest end of the pool.

He also wanted the police to follow up on the distribution chain she would have been using and in future for prosecutors in such transnational offences to check in the relevant countries for previous convictions.

He said although the use of cocaine was lower than that of other drugs like crystal meth, it is worrying that an estimated five percent of the youths in the country are abusing it.

Khumalo was arrested at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport after being found with US$7,8 million worth of cocaine she had smuggled from Brazil.

She was charged with dealing in dangerous drugs.

Said Mr Mutevedzi: "I must, however, add that offences of this nature tend to be transnational. Prosecutors need to do more in checking the status of convicted persons as they may have previous convictions for the same offences in other countries.

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