FRANCISTOWN: An undocumented Zimbabwean gold miner has been fined P1,000 and three months in prison for illegal gold mining. Banda was also sentenced for entering Botswana through an ungazetted point of entry and was fined P3,000 or in default of payment shall be imprisoned for six months.
Keith Banda, landed in trouble after he was found in possession of unwrought precious metals, gold, at Tachila Farms on December 9. When sentencing Banda, Magistrate Thapelo Buang indicated that the practice of illegal gold mining threatens the country’s economic interests. When passing sentence, Buang said that the sentence should take into account the offence committed and the interests of society.
“I have noted that the accused pleaded guilty to the offence of his own volition. I have also noted that the accused pleaded guilty to the offence which is a sign of remorse on his part. I also take into consideration that you are the breadwinner of your family and that you are a youthful person aged 26. The law allows that a first offender should be spared jail if circumstances allow. I have also noted that you have learnt something from the period you spent in jail. The punishment meted out by the courts should fit the nature and gravity of the offence,” said Buang. Buang added offences of illegal gold mining and entering Botswana illegally are prevalent in this jurisdiction.
“In my view, illegal gold mining is a very serious offence. This practice has the potential to affect the economy in a very serious manner and as such the courts are enjoined to protect the country’s economic interests and pass stiffer penalties in order to deter would-be offenders. The punishment for illegal gold mining is a fine of P1,000 or three months in prison or both. In my view, both the fine and prison term are not stiff to deter would-be offenders,” said Buang.
Magistrate Buang added: "The accused is advised of his right to appeal to the High Court in respect of fines and sentences in both counts. The fines are payable with immediate effect. In case you default to pay the P3,000, sentences in both counts should run concurrently. The time you spent in jail shall be removed from your sentence.”