Transparency International Zambia says Henry Kapoko’s two-year jail sentence is a slap on the wrist.
And TIZ says it is possible that Kapoko managed to hide stolen assets in off shore accounts or changing ownership in the nine years it took to dispose off his case.
In a statement today, TIZ executive director Wesley Chibamba stated that while they welcomed Kapoko’s conviction, the sentence was too minimal.
“Transparency International Zambia has welcomed the conviction of former Ministry of Health chief human resources development officer Henry Kapoko. TIZ is however not amused with the sentence of 2 years that has been slapped on Mr Kapoko. For public servant theft of that magnitude (about K 20 million), 2 years is a slap on the wrist. When public servants pilfer public resources, they are supposed to be punished in a manner that serves as a warning and a deterrent to other would be offenders. TIZ has always lamented on the way the justice system treats the corrupt and thieving public servants with kid’s gloves. When it comes to sentencing, they are given small jail terms and they walk out to continue living like kings on stolen public resources,” Chibamba stated.
“Mr Kapoko’s sentence was supposed to be so stiff as to send a warning to other civil servants who might be tempted to dip their fingers in public coffers. The public resources he stole were meant for the Ministry of Health, the institution directly in charge of saving human lives.”
He asked the ACC to apply for seizure of Kapoko’s assets pending forfeiture.
“Transparency International Zambia would like to see that this case doesn’t just end in a conviction and the accompanying cheap sentence, we would like to see the stolen public resources recovered and given back to government. We therefore, urge the Anti-Corruption Commission to move in and apply for seizure of all of Mr Kapoko’s assets pending forfeiture to the state. TIZ has always emphasized on recovery of stolen resources so they can be rechanneled towards the intended purposes and so that criminals do not continue enjoying stolen wealth. Some of these criminals are becoming wrong role models in society since they are idolized and revered in their communities,” Chibamba stated.
And Chibamba stated that Kapoko may have hidden all stolen assets during the period it took to dispose off the case.
“Society should be abhorrent of stealing public resources and all those that do so should be demonized to the letter. Asset recovery should be a priority for the government. Transparency International Zambia is also very concerned at the longevity this case has taken. The case has dragged on for nine years when it should have been disposed of in a shorter period. The evidence with which the conviction has been arrived at is the same evidence that has always been there. During the nine year period, the culprits could have taken care to hide their stolen assets in offshore accounts or change ownership and basically put this stolen wealth where it is out arms reach for government. TIZ has always advocated for quick disposal of corruption related cases because dragging them has got a bearing on the case itself and on asset recovery if the culprit is convicted,” stated Chibamba.
“We urge the government through the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to punish corrupt people appropriately such that they can no longer enjoy stolen wealth. This calls for stiffer sentences and seizure of assets. We believe this can go a long way to deter others from committing the same crimes to the Zambian people.”