Tanzania: Dar es Salaam Couple Sentenced to Life for Drug Trafficking

THE Corruption and Economic Crime Division of High Court yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment businessman, Abdul Nsembo and his wife, Shamimu Mwasha, for trafficking in 275.40 grams of Heroin Hydrochloride, which are narcotic drugs.

Judge Elinaza Luvanda imposed the sentence after convicting the couple of two economic related offences they were facing after considering the evidence tendered by witnesses from both parties– the prosecution and defence.

During the trial, the prosecution called eight witnesses and tendered six exhibits in court, to prove the allegations, while the accused persons made their own defence supported by testimony from an independent witness in an attempt to cement their innocence.

In his judgment, however, the judge ruled that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt as required in a criminal case, thus, finding the two accused persons guilty of the drug trafficking offences.

Judge Luvanda further ordered the destruction of narcotic drugs tendered as part of exhibits in court, which were seized from the convicts and that a Land Rover Discovery vehicle produced in evidence during the trial, having been linked with the illegal business, should be confiscated into government property.

Other exhibits produced to support the prosecution’s case include cautioned statements for the couple, arrest warrant, government laboratory inspection report, laboratory sample submission form, vehicle registration information from Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and prescription envelopes of drugs.

In his deliberations, Judge Luvanda noted that there was no dispute that all the convicts lived in the same house and that the Land Rover Discovery vehicle, which was tendered in evidence, belonged to Nsembo and that the vehicle and the house were involved in the search.

He went on explaining that the evidence indicates four cans with drugs were found during the search in the rooms and later in the car white cloth bag wrapped in bright nylon with powder was found in the motor vehicle.

The judge said that in his testimony, Nsembo stated that the search was not organised as there was to and fro movements by the police officers during the search operation, meaning that the exhibits may have been planted into the house.

However, Judge Luvanda dismissed his line of defence as the convicts could not specify who was entering and leaving the house as claimed.

During the trial, the prosecution was represented by a team comprising Senior State Attorneys Veronica Matikila and State Attorney Constantine Kakula, while the accused persons were defended by Advocates Juma Nassoro, Josephat Mabula and Hajra Mungula.

After being convicted, the prosecution asked the court to impose stiff sentences to the accused persons in accordance with the law because the offense committed had serious consequences for the community including youths becoming drug dependent as well as causing poor mental health.

The defence appealed to the court for mercy on the grounds that the convicts are a couple and parents to three children, who all need their parental care, and the court should provide a lenient sentence considering that the convicts are first offenders.

Delivering the sentence, Judge Luvanda said he was bound to give a sentence in accordance with the requirements of the law, and the law would not provide an opportunity for the court to render a verdict on sympathy.

“It is true that the accused are first offenders, but the law provided the punishment for the offences charged and since the law does not provide any room for the court to do otherwise, I hereby sentence each to life imprisonment for the first count and life imprisonment for the second count,” he declared.

The prosecution had told the court that Nsembo and his wife, Shamim were found trafficking in 275.40 grams of Heroin Hydrochloride, which are narcotic drugs, on May 1, 2019 at Mbezi Beach area within Kinondoni District in Dar es Salaam Region.

According to the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA), Nsembo is claimed to be a lord in the drug trade network and is allegedly known in various countries including Brazil and the United States.

Nsembo was arrested by DCEA in May, 2019 at midnight while hiding on the ceiling at his home in Mbezi Beach, Dar es Salaam. He was arrested alongside his wife Shamim for allegedly possessing a substantial amount of heroin, found after a six-hour search at their house.

DCEA’s Operations Commissioner, Lieutenant-Colonel Fredrick Milanzi had claimed that Nsembo was among the major drug dealers who they had been investigating and chasing for a long time.

“You see Nsembo as a young person; Nsembo is not a minor in the drug trade network. He has a big network, if you ask them they will tell you he is so tricky and has been doing this business for some time now,” he is quoted as saying.

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