The Lusaka Magistrate Court has sentenced two house maids of Mtendere Township to two months simple imprisonment for stealing seven blouses and a dress belonging to the former first lady Christine Kaseba Sata’s daughter.

The State had earlier made an application to change the indictment, saying the property stolen belonged to Kaseba’s daughter, Mwelwa Sata, who was the complainant.

In this matter, it was alleged that on July 20, 2018, Stella Michelo 45, Eusibia Malambo 27 and Zachariah Mulama 24, all from Mtendere Township, in Lusaka, being employed by Christine Kaseba Sata as house maids and garden boy, respectively, jointly and whilst acting together, did steal seven blouses, one dress and one pack of Heineken altogether valued at K5,000.00, the property of the said employer’s daughter.

The two house maids had admitted to stealing the clothes, but the court has, however, entered a plea of not guilty for the garden boy as he had said that he was not sure that the alcohol given to him by one of the two maids was stolen.

When the matter came up for sentencing and explanation of facts before Magistrate Nsunge Chanda, Thursday, the State made an application to change the indictment, saying the property stolen belonged to Kaseba’s daughter, Mwelwa, who was also the complainant.

“The property stolen belongs to the daughter. It’s the daughter that’s the complainant,” Simango Job submitted.

Asked by the Magistrate how the other name come about, Simango said it was because the accused persons were Kaseba’s employees.

“Because the three are the employees of the person appearing on the indictments. So, it’s our application that the indictment is substituted to suit the facts,” he explained.

Magistrate Chanda then ruled that the ownership of the property had been changed to Mwelwa Sata, whereas the charge was changed from theft by public servant to theft.

Facts of the matter were that “on July 20, the two accused got bedroom keys for Mwelwa Sata. A1, Michelo, got three tops and a dress, while A2, Malambo, got four tops. A1 wrapped the dress in a chitenge and hid it in the laundry room. The two also got beer and were seen stealing by their fellow employees. On July 21, the complainant Mwelwa asked the three where the items where. They admitted having stolen the things. She also reported the matter to Woodlands Police,” read the facts.

Asked whether the facts were correct, A1 said they were correct, but A2 said the duo did not get the keys because the door was already open.

“The door was open because she was changing her wardrobe,” she said.

However, Magistrate Chanda found the duo guilty upon their own admission.

And in mitigation the accused lawyer asked for maximum leniency, saying both accused were first offenders and were remorseful.

He said A1 was a widow and was taking care of three children, one of which was epileptic.

The lawyer further said A2 had agreed to reform and contribute to society.

“The convicts are first offenders. I’m asking for maximum leniency. A1 is a widow and is keeping three children. The first born is epileptic. If she is sent to jail, her first child will not have the needed care. She is very remorseful of her actions. The stolen items have been recovered. A2 is 27, she has agreed to reform and contribute to society. She’s a first offender. The time she spent in cells, she reflected on her actions. Both are first offenders and pleaded guilty and did not waist the court’s time,” he said.

And passing judgement, Magistrate Chanda said although the mitigation was moving, theft was a very serious offence.

She said there was no justification why the duo stole because they were being paid.

Magistrate Chanda then sentenced the duo to two months simple imprisonment to deter would-be offenders.

“I accept your guilty plea and that you are first offenders. The mitigation from counsel is moving, but theft is a very serious offence. It doesn’t matter the quantity of what has been stolen, but the acts. There’s no justification why you stole because you were being paid your salaries. I have to punish you to deter would-be offenders. The courts are not here to sympathise with people, but deliver justice in the interest of both parties. This case attracts five years imprisonment regardless of the quantity. So, I sentence both of you to two months simple imprisonment with effect from today,” ruled Magistrate Chanda.

The court has since set September 4 for commencement trial in respect of the other suspect, the garden boy who had pleaded not guilty.