A 31-year-old man of John Laing Compound has been slapped with a six months jail sentence for stealing 20 litres of cooking oil, after he told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that the devil’s heart influenced him to commit the offence.

Magistrate Ammie Masoja convicted the Lusaka man after advising him to stop accusing the devil.

In this matter, James Chali l, unemployed, was charged with one count of theft.

Particulars of the offence were that on July 8, this year, in Lusaka, Chali stole cooking oil worth K335 from Francis Zulu.

Facts before court were that on July 8 this year, around 09:00 hours, Zulu, a businessman, was at his shop selling his merchandise when Chali went into his shop and started inquiring about prices of goods.

Zulu, however, did not respond as he was busy attending to other clients.

Chali then took advantage of the congestion in the shop and got a 20-litre container of cooking oil and left the shop.

He was, however, intercepted as he was leaving the shop after Zulu’s brother-in-law Henry Nkhoma, saw him.

Nkhoma went to ask if Zulu had sold any cooking oil but when he got a negative response, he ran after Chali to get back the stolen cooking oil.

Chali was apprehended and the matter was reported to John Laing Police Station where a detective inspector took up the matter and instituted investigations.

And when the matter came up for plea before magistrate Masoja, Monday, Chali admitted the charge.

Asked why he stole, Chali told the court that he was hungry.

When magistrate Masoja asked if he wanted to drink the cooking oil, Chali said he wanted to sell it so that he could have some money.

He admitted that he did not have authority to steal the cooking oil.

In mitigation, the accused asked for leniency from the court as he was a first offender.

He promised never to steal again and added that the devil’s heart influenced him, that was why he stole.

But Magistrate Masoja advised Chali to stop accusing the devil, saying the devil would stand his own judgment.

She then sentenced him to six months imprisonment with hard labour.