While beef is making noise in India, three pork sausages almost smuggled from the country could have landed New Zealand into a soup. And, this daredevil stunt was taken up by a woman just to check if the authorities could catch her. Well, when the officials responsible for protecting the border did catch her, they slapped her with a fine of more than $20,000. She was saved from paying such a hefty amount by the judge who noted that the woman could not pay the fine and ordered her to do 200 hours community work instead.
Maria Benevita Suvira Lobo, 59, a resident of Porirua had pleaded guilty of trying to possess unauthorised goods and making a false declaration. She had taken the meat while she as on a visit to India in the month of January. She then packaged the meat with labels that read ‘mixed vege pickle’, ‘pickled meat vege’ and ‘stuffed carrot pickle.’ When questioned by Auckland Airport authorities on why she had done so, she replied, “I wanted to see whether you would catch me. I was trying to smuggle the sausages in because we don’t get this kind of sausage in New Zealand.”
Saying that the smuggling could lead to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease which would in-turn cripple the country’s economy, Vatau Sagaga on behalf of the Ministry for Primary Industries asked the penalty to start from $ 20,000. “The cost is measured in billions of dollars and would send the economy into recession,” he said.
Sagaga said the importation of raw meat was considered the most likely route to foot and mouth disease in New Zealand and could have worst possible economic and social consequences. The Wellington District Court Judge, Peter Butler said that there has never been an outbreak of such disease in New Zealand and agreed that the outbreak could put exports, farming and job at risk.
Defence lawyer Al O’Connor, however, tried to salvage the situation. He said that Lobo realised she had been foolish and stupid to try smuggling. He also added that a fine so hefty seemed over the top. The judge, however, said he did not agree that a fine of that size was over the top, but accepted it would be futile to order it if she could not pay it and agreed to reduce the punishment to 200 hours of community work.