A Francistown man has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for possession of dagga.
22-year-old Mmoloki Mahupelo of Newstands location in Francistown was on Tuesday convicted on his plea of guilty after he was caught in possession of 568.8g of the prohibited habit forming drug.
This is after he had appeared before Francistown magistrate Sijabuliso Siziba. Youthful Mahupelo was slapped with both a custodial sentence and a fine of P1 500 to be paid immediately.
In default of paying the fine of P1 500, Mahupelo will serve an additional 12 months in jail, a development that will make his punishment an effective two-year prison term.
Sentencing the youthful Mahupelo, Siziba took into consideration that the accused person is a first offender. Siziba said the courts of law generally treat first offenders with leniency.
However, Siziba was quick to point out that the use of the prohibited drug is prevalent in the society and calls for stiffer penalties in a bid to send a clear message to the community.
“The drug is dangerous to the society,” observed Siziba. This is why the legislature is tough when it comes to possession and dealing in dagga, he said.
“If the courts of law become overly lenient on offenders of this nature, there will be more problems in the society,” warned the magistrate.
Despite Mahupelo being unemployed and a breadwinner for his minor child, Siziba said the accused person failed to appraise the court on any extenuating circumstances that could have coerced him into committing the offense.
Earlier on in mitigation, the accused person had told the court that he is the one taking care of his minor child through performing manual jobs. He had pleaded with the court not to impose a custodial sentence.
The prosecutor Sub-Inspector Ronny Mmuso told the court that Mahupelo was arrested two months ago after a team of detectives received a tip-off that the accused person was dealing in the prohibited habit forming drug.
Detectives then raided his house at Newstands Francistown. He admitted to possession of dagga but denied dealing in it.
The court heard that Mahupelo said the dagga belonged to his Zimbabwean friend who is currently out of the country.
The dagga was taken to laboratories for the tests and it was found to be over half a kilogram.