Court wants expert evidence on mutoriro

REGIONAL magistrate Stanford Mambanje has deferred a ruling on an application launched by a suspected crystal meth (mutoriro) dealer challenging that Zimbabwe’s laws do not recognise the drug as a dangerous substance. 

This follows arguments raised by the State that crystal meth is a dangerous drug named methylenedioxy-methamphetamine in terms of the law. 

Lawyers representing Brenda Anisha Gumbo are insisting that crystal meth and methylenedioxy-methamphetamine are two different drugs. 

This prompted the court to call in an expert to help the parties understand whether the two are the same or not. 

“This is more scientific and there is a need for an expert to help the court understand. This cannot be determined by legal practitioners, but someone from the medical field,” Mambanje said yesterday. 

The magistrate then ordered the State to make arrangements that an expert be brought in on Friday to make a presentation in the court. 

Gumbo’s lawyer Admire Rubaya called for an independent expert to be brought in instead of a forensic expert from the police. 

In his application challenging placement of Gumbo on remand, Rubaya argued that there is no law that classifies mutoriro as a dangerous drug. 

“The State alleges that crystal methamphetamine that the accused was allegedly found in possession of is a dangerous drug, yet there is no such drug listed in the Schedule to the Dangerous Drugs Act (Chapter 15:02).  

“A drug does not become a dangerous drug in terms of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23 simply because the general populace, the State and/or politicians want it to be treated as a dangerous drug,” he argued.  

He further argued that his client should be freed as currently there is no statute that criminalises crystal meth as a dangerous drug.  

“Crimes are created through statute and not by the courts simply because there is a need to address the abuse of crystal meth by the younger generation of the Zimbabwean population.  

“The responsible minister ought to specify crystal meth as a dangerous drug in terms of Section 14 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, failing which the law as it currently stands does not create a crime from the alleged possession of crystal meth or any dealings in crystal meth,” he argued.  

Rubaya further said that Gumbo should not be charged with something that does not constitute an offence.  

“It is submitted with respect that this court has no legislative powers. It cannot read crystal methamphetamine into the definition in the statute because it simply cannot do so. On that score this court has no legal basis to place the accused on Remand because what is being alleged by the State is not an offence,” he argued.  

Prosecutor Netsai Mushayabasa argued that mutoriro is mentioned in terms of the law. 

“Crystal meth is a dangerous drug named methylenedioxy-methamphetamine in part II of the schedule in the Dangerous Drugs Act. 

“The chief ingredient in crystal meth is methamphetamine. 

“Methamphetamine is a derivative of methylenedioxy-methamphetamine which is a dangerous drug in terms of the Dangerous Drugs Act. 

“Methamphetamine is a scheduled drug in terms of the eighth schedule of the Medicines and Allied Substance Control Act,” she said.