Drug dealer’s 30-year jail term enhanced to life imprisonment

DAR ES SALAAM: THE Court of Appeal has enhanced to life imprisonment the 30-year jail sentence imposed on drug dealer, Islem Shebe Islem, for trafficking in heroin hydrochloride weighing 306.32 grammes.

Justices Jacobs Mwambegele, Patricia Fikirini and Omar Makungu ruled against Islem, the appellant, after dismissing his appeal he lodged against findings of the High Court’s Corruption and Economic Crimes Division.

“We find no merit in this appeal. We accordingly dismiss it. We proceed to enhance the sentence to mandatory life imprisonment in consonance with the dictates of section 15 (1) (a) of the Drug Control and Enforcement Act,” they declared.

The justices nullified the sentence of 30-years imprisonment imposed by the trial court by exercising their powers of revision under section 4 (2) of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act.

During hearing of the appeal, the appellant submitted that the charge sheet was defective, the search into his home was illegal, the chain of custody of the alleged illegal substance was broken, the drugs were improperly tendered and admitted in evidence and the prosecution case was not proved.

In their judgment delivered in Dar es Salaam recently, the justices agreed with the prosecution that the complaint on the charge sheet was misconceived, as the particulars of offence were clear in terms of what the appellant was being charged with.

“We are satisfied that they fully informed the appellant of what he was being charged with to enable him to understand the nature and seriousness of the offence, that is, trafficking in narcotic drugs,” they said.

The justices noted from the record of appeal that, before arrest, the appellant was informed about the alleged offence involved in the search and appended his name and signature on the seizure certificate, and on the same day recorded his statement at the police.

They said the prosecution account on the said process is cemented by the appellant’s own account together with one of defence witnesses and that the account by an officer from the Drugs Control and Enforcement Authority was not impeached on what transpired at the scene of crime.

“We are, thus satisfied that the law was complied with during the arrest, search and seizure of what was retrieved from the appellant’s house,” they said adding, “the conduct of the appellant leaves a lot to be desired as it exhibited the knowledge on the presence of the narcotic drugs in the room in question.”

On the trial judge’s failure to properly analyse the evidence tendered, the justices pointed out that on the basis of cumulative evidence of the prosecution, it was proved beyond a speck of doubt that the appellant was actually found in his room in possession of the narcotic drugs.

They were satisfied that the trial court properly analysed and evaluated the evidence of both sides and satisfied that the case was proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Pertaining to the sentence of 30 years meted on the appellant, the justices revisited the Drugs and Control Enforcement Act (DCEA) and concluded that the only sentence stipulated for a person convicted of drug trafficking is life imprisonment.

“We think, after convicting the appellant under section 15 (1) (a) of the DCEA, the trial court should have sentenced the appellant by imposing a sentence of life imprisonment and not of thirty years,” they said.

The prosecution case was that on July 20, 2018 at Magomeni Usalama Street within Kinondoni District in Dar es Salaam Region, the appellant trafficked in heroin hydrochloride, a narcotic drug weighing 306.32 grammes.

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