The Lusaka High Court has upheld former Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Commander Christopher Singogo’s six year-sentence slapped on him by the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court in 2009 on charges of abuse of authority and theft by public servant.
The Court has directed that since Lt Singogo had been on bail since 2009 when his sentence and conviction was passed, his sentence was effective yesterday (Monday).
In 2009, then Chief Resident magistrate Charles Kafunda sentenced Singogo to six years imprisonment with hard labour after finding him guilty of abuse of authority and theft by public servant.
Lt Gen Singogo, was charged with abuse of authority of office involving two generators and accessories for ZAF valued at K117,715,940.00 that he directed to be installed at his guest houses namely Wane Guest Lodge in Livingstone and Wasingo Guest Inn at PHI in Lusaka.
In the second count, Lt Gen Singogo was jointly charged with his former aide-de-camp (ADC) Captain Joseph Phiri of ZAF Lusaka Base, a ZAF pilot, for theft by public servant involving a standby power generator valued at K32,153,800.00.
However, magistrate Kafunda acquitted Capt Phiri after establishing that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that he acted as he did while sharing the same criminal intent with Lt Gen Singogo who directed him to perform the said acts in the course of his duty.
Singogo however appealed to the High Court and asked the Court to find that the six-year sentence slapped on him was too severe.
He had been on bail pending determination of the appeal.
And when the matter came up for judgement before High Court judges Mwila Chitabo, Sharon Newa and Catherine Phiri, the Court found no fault with the trial court’s judgement.
It ruled that Singogo was given an opportunity to explain to the court how he procured the generators installed at his two premises but he failed to give a convincing explanation.
“He was given an opportunity to give an account. There was some discrepancies and inconsistency in his statement. He should have raised a reasonable doubt as to his case. We are satisfied that the State satisfied it’s allegations against him and there was no doubt raised in the mind of the Court below regarding the guilty of the appellant,” Judge Chitabo said.
The Court said it was clear that Singogo’s intention was to permanently deprive government of it’s property as it was installed at his residence.
It therefore upheld the conviction.
“It is clear that the intention was to permanently deprive the government of it’s property. The trial court was on firm ground. We therefore, find no reason to reverse the finding of the lower court when it found that the appellant committed theft by public servant. The appeal fails,” Judge Chitabo said.
And on Singogo’s argument that the six-year sentence was too harsh, the court ruled that it found no fault with the sentence and therefore would not temper with the decision of the trial court.
Judge Chitabo further directed that since Singogo had been on bail since 2009 when his sentence and conviction was passed, he would begun to serve his sentence effective yesterday, Monday.
Singogo served as air force commander under President Frederick Chiluba.