By DELPHINE ZULU -
FORMER Mines minister Maxwell Mwale and his former deputy Boniface Nkhata have been sentenced to two years imprisonment each with hard labour by a Lusaka magistrates’ court after they were found guilty of stealing 40 bicycles.
The duo was sent to jail after the court convicted them of two counts of theft by public servant charges, contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
Mwale and Nkhata were charged with two counts of theft by public servant each, involving 40 bicycles valued at K22,000 in 2010.
In count one, Mwale is alleged to have stolen 20 bicycles valued at K11,000 which came into his possession by virtue of his
employment as Mines minister on November 8, 2010 in Chipata.
In the second count, Nkhata is also alleged to have stolen 20 bicycles valued at K11,000 during the same period in Chipata by virtue of his position.
Handing down her judgment, Magistrate Ruth Chilembo said the offence the duo committed was a serious one as it involved senior Government officers who ought to have conducted themselves in a clean manner as required by their status in society.
Ms Chilembo said yesterday the prosecution had proved their case beyond reasonable doubt and satisfied the ingredients of the charges slapped on the duo.
“I now sentence you to two years imprisonment each with hard labour.
Looking at the prosecution evidence, I am satisfied that they have proved their case beyond any reasonable doubt,” Ms Chilembo said.
She said she heard what had been said in mitigation that the two were first offenders and deserved leniency among them, a non-custodial sentence.
Ms Chilembo, however, said imposing a non-custodial sentence would be unjust.
In mitigation, the pair asked the court to consider a non-custodial sentence on account of them having served the country diligently while in Government and in various positions.
In 2006, the ministry received 100 bicycles from the Zambia National Response to HIV/ AIDS Project (ZANARA) and 40 of these bicycles were expected to be taken to Chipata to distribute them to the small-scale miners but ended up in Mapatizya.