CHINA – A Zimbabwean woman convicted of smuggling hard drugs in Hong Kong was spared the death sentence after she was thrown behind bars for seven and a half years in that country.
Asian countries impose death sentences for drug traffickers. Regina Makwembere (40) was arrested in Hong Hong after being found in possession of amphetamine drugs in her luggage at the Hong Kong International Airport while enroute to Thailand in March this year.
Amphetamine is a psychostimulant drug that produces increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite.
Foreign Affairs deputy director legal and consular Mr Chris Mavodza on Friday said Makwembere was sentenced last week by a Hong Kong magistrate.
“Yes I confirm she was given seven and a half years after the court considered some mitigatory circumstances,” Mr Mavodza said.
Makwembere has been in jail since March and she claimed to be in dressmaking business and had travelled to South Africa by bus around February 15.
She stayed in a hotel in Johannesburg before reportedly picking up the drugs from a South African woman only identified as Pearl. Mr Mavodza said Pearl assisted Makwembere to smuggle the drugs through OR Tambo International Airport.
The value of the contraband meant for Thailand was not disclosed. Fifteen other Zimbabwean women are also languishing in Asian jails after being found in possession of various hard drugs.
Reports say there is also a Chitungwiza woman who runs a hair salon in Zengeza who has been thrown in jail in one of the Asian countries.
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs the other 15 women have been convicted are awaiting sentence.
The Ministry has issued several warnings to Zimbabweans to be wary of international drug syndicates reportedly targeting locals.
Drug cartels are increasingly using Zimbabweans as mules to take hard drugs to Asian countries, where such crimes attract the death sentence or life imprisonment.
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs 14 women are jailed in China where they have been convicted of offences ranging from drug trafficking to illegal ivory trade.
Seven are already serving their sentences at the Beijing Women Prison, Beijing Second Prison and Tianjin Prison while six others are detained at the Guangzhou Prison. Two other women are detained in Malaysia.