A 32-year-old man of Lusaka’s Kanyama Compound has been sentenced to one year six months’ imprisonment with hard labour for stealing K32,000 cash belonging to his cousin.

In this matter, Rodrick Chimwase was charged with theft and he pleaded guilty.

Particulars of the offence were that between October 31 and November 8 last year in Lusaka, Chimwase stole K32,000 cash, the property of Munengu Muzhinga.

And when the matter came up on Monday before Magistrate Humphrey Chitalu, Chimwase pleaded guilty to the charge.

Facts in this matter were that between October 31 and November 8, last year, Muzhinga instructed his cousin, Chimwase, to pick up his Toyota vehicle and meet an agent who had found someone to buy it.

Chimwase took the vehicle and met the buyer who was happy with it and offered to buy.

Muzhinga then instructed the buyer to deposit K55,000 in Chimwase’s bank account at Zanaco.

Then on October 31, 2018, Muzhinga instructed Chimwase to withdraw K23,000 and deliver it to him, which the convict did.

Some days later, Muzhinga wanted to buy another vehicle from the K32,000 balance that had remained in Chimwase’s account.

However, Chimwase could not withdraw the K32,000 as instructed and kept giving the complainant, Muzhinga, excuses.

Muzhinga made several attempts to get hold of his money but nothing positive came out.

He then decided to report the matter to Kanyama Police Post and later learnt that the money had been taken and used for something else.

When the Court asked if the facts were true and correct, Chimwase said that they were.

However, when Chimwase was asked to mitigate, the convict informed the Court that he would like to change his plea of guilty.

Magistrate Chitalu then guided him that after being convicted, he could not change plea, but could only appeal to the High Court if he was not happy with the sentence.

He then asked Chimwase to mitigate so that the court Could be lenient on him.

In mitigation, Chimwase said he regretted his actions because it had done more damage to his family than ever.

“I regret my actions being first cousins with the complaint, because this has done more damage to the family than ever. My family members are only hearing of what has transpired here in Lusaka. They are deeply hurt and there is so much tension in the family all because of my action,” Chimwase narrated.

At this point, Magistrate Chitalu, quoting the Bible, said if there was a dispute within the family, it was best to try and solve it out there.

“If the matter comes to court, then the family has failed to solve it,” he observed.

When Chimwase continued with his mitigation, he told the Court that he was about to get married and had a three-year-old son with his fiancée.

He further told the Court while crying that he did not know how life for his son would be without his presence.

Passing his sentence, Magistrate Chitalu said although the Court had considered that Chimwase was a first offender who had pleaded guilty, the offence he committed was serious and attracted a maximum jail sentence of five years.

He observed that having property in Zambia was very difficult, therefore, selling the vehicle and losing everything was not fair.

“I, therefore, sentence you to 18 months’ imprisonment with hard labour with effect from March 6, 2019. If you are not happy with this sentence, you can appeal to the High Court,” ruled Magistrate Chitalu.