The Lusaka Magistrates’ court will today, Thursday, sentence former Ministry of Health human resource manager Henry Kapoko and four others in a matter in which they faced 69 counts of theft by public servant and money laundering involving over K6.8 million.

And Principal Resident Magistrate Exornobert Zulu has ordered that all convicts’ properties and accounts in which stolen money was deposited, be forfeited to the State.

Yesterday, Magistrate Zulu convicted Kapoko, three accountants, an Internal Auditor and acquitted five other persons they were jointly charged with, on account that no offence had been proved against them.

Judgement, which had commenced on Tuesday morning, will only be concluded today, Thursday, at 14:30 hours.

In this nine year old-matter, Kapoko and nine others were facing 20 counts of theft by public servant involving over K6.8 million.

The suspects were also facing 49 counts of money laundering involving 24 vehicles, two lodges, three houses, one filling station and several bank accounts, among others.

When the matter came up for judgement, Wednesday, Magistrate Zulu convicted Kapoko (A1), Zukas Kaoma an acting principle accountant (A2), Evaristo Musaba, chief accountant (A4), Vincent Lunana, acting senior accountant (A5), and Justine Phiri an Internal Auditor (A11) of theft of public servant.

He ruled that for the money to move in the manner it did, there was a conspiracy between the five convicts.

Magistrate Zulu, however, acquitted the five other persons they were jointly charged with, on account that no offence had been proved against them.

“I have considered the circumstances in this case and I have come to a conclusion that for the money to move in the manner that it did, there was a collusion on the part of A1, A2, A4, A5 and A11. For that reason, I find A1, A2, A4, A5 and A11 guilty of theft of public servant on which they are jointly charged on all the counts of theft of which A1 stands charged and I will convict them accordingly. I, however, find A3, A7, A9, A10 and A12 not guilty and will acquit them on the charge of theft of public servant,” Magistrate Zulu ruled.

“I hereby enter statutory judgement in the sum of K6.8 billion (un-rebased) being the sum of money, the accused stole from the Ministry of Health. I will further award interest on the said sum at the current commercial bank short-term lending rate from the date of the theft until the date of judgement until the said sum is liquidated in full. The State is at liberty to recover the said sum from all the convicted accused persons.”

Magistrate Zulu also acquitted A3, A7, A9, A10, A12 of money laundering charges on account that theft by public servant had not been proved against them.

Magistrate Zulu observed that it was an odd coincidence that Kapoko and A2’s businesses were rapidly rising at the same time that money was being stolen from the Ministry of Health.

“On the rest of the accused persons, now convicts on the various counts of theft by public servants, on the part of A1 (Kapoko), I note that his counts pans from count 21 to 34 and 45 to 59 in which various properties have been linked to certain transactions. In his evidence, A1 states that his properties were genuinely acquired and was a businessman. It is surely an odd coincidence that his businesses and that of A2 were rapidly rising at the same time that money was being stolen from the Ministry of Health,” he said.

“If, indeed, he was a good businessman all the while, how does he explain the concentrated buying of most high-valued properties and development of most properties within a period of slightly over the year? Further, I note that the accused, especially A1 and A2, had made extra efforts to distance themselves from the money and property herein by registering them in other people’s names.”

Magistrate Zulu further noted that he was under the impression that there was no clean money going into Kapoko’s accounts.

“There was no clean money going into the accounts indicated, but as indicated earlier, the businesses of A1 extensively benefited from this laundered, plundered money. On A2, I will indicate similar sentiments. On A4, A5, A11, I’m equally satisfied that by transferring the money, their intention was to conceal the scam and, therefore, laundered it. I find A1, A2, A4, A5 and A11 guilty and convict them accordingly,” he ruled.

“I, hereby, order that all the properties be hereby forfeited to the State. Each property shall be sold at 90 per cent of its market cash value and after that, will be sold by public auction. The properties to be sold includes; a Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi Challenger, Nissan Truck, BMW, Toyota Hiace minibus, lodge and estate [among others]. And all accounts in which the accused deposited the stolen money. In the case that they are not sold at a public auction, the seized properties will be handed over to the Ministry of Works and Supply for government use. The money realised from such sales shall be deposited in Control 99. The said public auction shall be witnessed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and all interested parties,” he ruled.

In mitigation, A1, A2 and A4’s lawyer and renowned PF election strategist, Kelvin Bwalya Fube (KBF), asked the court to exercise lenience, saying the case had affected the accused persons psychologically, emotionally and financially as it had taken nine years.

He noted that the accused persons were always in court and had not missed any session in the nine years.

Lawyers of other accused persons also adopted KBF’s sentiments.

Magistrate Zulu has since adjourned the matter to today, 14:30 hours, for sentencing as the accused remain remanded at Kamwala Prison.