THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has jailed a former court messenger seven years for obtaining different amounts of money from people on the pretext that he would get them employed in the Judiciary.

Wycliff Banda, who had pleaded guilty to five counts of obtaining money by false pretences, has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment with hard labour in each of the five counts to run consecutively.

In this matter, Banda, 37, a court messenger of Nyimba Boma, was facing seven counts of obtaining money by false pretences.

Of the seven counts, he admitted committing five counts; counts three, to seven, but denied two.

In count three, it is alleged that Banda on an unknown date, but in February last year, with intent to defraud obtained K2,000 from Agness Katongo.

In count four, it is alleged that on unknown dates, but in March last year, Banda, with intent to defraud, got K2,500 from Lazarous Phiri.

In count five, it is alleged that on unknown dates, but in April last year in Lusaka, Banda, with intent to defraud obtained K8,000 from Ruth Gondwe.

In the sixth count, it is alleged that between January and October last year in Lusaka, Banda with intent to deceive and defraud, got K9,700 from Clement Mulenga.

In the last count, it is alleged in May last year in Lusaka, Banda, with intent to defraud obtained K3,100 from Isabel Mwale.

Facts are that on the material dates, Banda collected the indicated amounts of money on the pretext that he would find jobs for the complainants or their relatives.

Facts in one of the cases are that in February, last year, Agness Katongo was telling her fellow church members of how she desperately wanted to get employed.

One of the church deacons informed her that there were vacancies in the Judiciary.

She got interested and was given Banda’s contact details, who was said to have connections with the Human Resource personnel in the Judiciary.

After getting in touch with Banda, he confirmed that vacancies were available, but that she needed to pay him K2,000.

He also informed the complainant that she needed to have her finger prints lifted, which she went to do at Lusaka Central Police Station.

After that, she paid the accused person the money he had asked for.

After two months of waiting without being employed, the complainant made several calls and attempts to meet Banda, who assured her that something was going to come up, but to no avail.

On September 27, 2019 around 10:00 hours, she received a phone call informing her that the accused person had been arrested and that she was needed at Matero Police Station.

In another case, on March 2, 2019 another complainant, Lazarous Phiri, received a phone call from his sister that she had received information that there were some job vacancies at the Judiciary.

He got interested in the news and asked for what was required.

He was equally told that he just needed to pay K2,500.

The following day, he organised the money and gave it to the accused person.

He was then informed that everything will be sorted out by June, 2019.

The complainant then started attending orientation lessons at the accused person’s house on how he will be working in the Judiciary.

But soon after, he discovered that the accused person had shifted from that house.

A manhunt to find Banda was launched since there were also other people, who had given him money concerning employment.

The aggrieved parties went to the Lusaka High Court to try and find out whether the accused was their employee, but it was discovered that he was not.

He was apprehended at Manda Hill Shopping Mall and handed over to the police.

Banda appeared before Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale, Thursday.

After facts were read to him, Banda said they were correct.

In mitigation, Banda said he was remorseful for his actions and wiling to reconcile with the complainants.

He added that he was married with three children who did not know where he was.

Passing sentence, Magistrate Mwale said he had taken into account the convict’s mitigation and that he was a first offender.

He, however, said the offence he committed was very serious and aggravating.

Magistrate Mwale further said the convict’s behaviour painted a very bad picture that one had to pay to be employed in the Judiciary.

He said it was aggravating that the convict even conducted orientation for the people he claimed he would find jobs for in the Judiciary, adding that such conduct could not be allowed to take root.

In each of the counts, Magistrate Mwale sentenced Banda to 18 months’ imprisonment with hard labour to run consecutively.