The three Angolans who were arrested and convicted this week after they were found in possession of N$365 415.60 in cash at Oshivelo were spared a fine of N$1.1 million, which the State pressed for in the Tsumeb Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
The State, represented by prosecutor Nelao ya France, has however appealed Magistrate David Munsu’s sentence of a N$10 000 fine for Joao Faria, 24, Jorge Faria, 53, and Joaquim Mayers, 58.
The trio were alternatively sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment. The magistrate also ruled that the confiscated money be returned to the convicted men – contrary to Ya France’s request that the money be forfeited to the State.
The fine could have translated into a combined value of N$3 million for all three as per Section 14 (1) (a) of the Customs and Exercise Act 20 of 1998 for failing to declare goods.
Meanwhile a charge of money laundering under Section 6 of Act 29 of 2004, of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), was withdrawn as the State could not prove that the money was acquired in an illegal manner.
The Act stipulates that if the undeclared goods exceed a fine of more than N$8 000 when multiplied by three, the accused shall be fined as such and if it does not exceed a fine of N$8 000 the accused shall be fined an amount not more than the stipulated fine.
It is now in the power of the High Court to rule whether the judgment passed was suitable for the crime and then it will be decided if an appeal can be lodged or the money to be returned.
In this case the State has a maximum of 30 days to lodge a levy appeal which can then be granted before making the formal appeal for forfeiture of the money.
The three men were represented by defence lawyer Grace Mugaviri. The confiscated money remains in possession of the court, pending the outcome of the State’s appeal.