LUSAKA Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale has sentenced a security guard to three years’ imprisonment with hard labour for breaking into High Court Judge Sunday Bwalya Nkonde’s house and stealing property worth over K55,000.
In this matter, Afelo Banda of Lusaka’s Kalinganga area was charged with burglary and theft.
Particulars of the offence were that on July 18, last year in Lusaka, Banda with intent to steal, broke and entered into the dwelling house of Sunday Bwalya Nkonde, and stole from there K20,000 cash, a Judiciary HP laptop Notebook by make valued at K8,000, three wrist watches worth US $2,700, two blue De Channel perfumes valued at US $200 and a set of Wahl Deluxe shaving kits valued at K550, all together valued at K55,594, property of Sunday Bwalya Nkonde.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and the matter went into trial.
He was, however, found with a case to answer.
In his defence, Banda’s witnesses Matthews Banda, a driver and Patrick Zulu, a security guard, told the Court that they did not know anything about the matter.
When Banda asked his witnesses whether he didn’t tell them that he was selling rice, the witnesses said no.
Zulu wondered how he would know about Banda’s rice business when they lived in different areas.
Delivering his judgement yesterday, Magistrate Mwale said he had no reasonable doubt in his mind that the accused was the one who broke into Judge Nkonde’s house on the night of July 19, 2019, and stole the mentioned items.
He said there was no opportunity that the offence could have been committed by anyone else since the accused was the one on duty and was found with some items as well as the money he deposited in his two mobile accounts after the burglary.
In the premises I’m satisfied that the State has proved the case against the accused beyond all reasonable doubt and I find him guilty of the offence and I accordingly convict him,” Magistrate Mwale ruled.
Earlier, Magistrate Mwale said there was clearly no direct evidence linking the accused to the commission of the offence.
He, however, added that what was available before court was the circumstantial evidence, namely, the watch and shaving machine that were found at Banda’s house, as well as the money deposits that the accused made in his Airtel Mobile Money account immediately after the complainant’s money went missing.
“Further, the complainant has a matching package box for the watch that was found at the accused’s house. The accused’s explanation was that he bought the watch and the shaving machine at Simpson. I find this explanation to be untrue because it is too much of a coincidence that the same watch goes missing on the night and it is found at the accused’s house the next day,” Magistrate Mwale said.
He added that the only plausible explanation was that the accused person stole the watch and Judge Nkonde’s shaving machines.
In his mitigation, Banda asked for the Court’s forgiveness, saying he was also out of employment.
“From the time this happened, I have never been in formal employment and my kids are suffering,” he lamented.
But in his ruling, Magistrate Mwale said he had taken into account the mitigation by the convict and the fact that he was also a first offender.
He, however, said that the offence the convict committed was very serious, which attracted a custodial sentence of 10 years.
Magistrate Mwale, therefore, sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment with hard labour, effective yesterday.
“I note that some items were recovered and an amount of K15,000 was also recovered. In this regard, I sentence the convict to 36 months’ imprisonment with hard labour with effect from today (yesterday). The recovered items are to be given back to the complainant if there is no appeal lodged after the expiration of 14 days,” he ruled.
During trial, Judge Nkonde narrated to the Court how his cash and other items were stolen from his house by a security guard, who was guarding his premises.
He testified that on the material day, he discovered about K20,000 cash, two shaving machines, three watches, a Judiciary laptop and two bottles of perfumes missing in his bedroom.
Justice Nkonde said his first suspect was the security guard, Banda, who was on the night shift, adding that he suspected Banda because he was the only person who had seen him enter the house with money.
He said after he reported the matter to the police, he went to Banda’s house in Kalingalinga in the company of two police officers.
Judge Nkonde told the Court he was curious about the new music system and a refrigerator, which they found in Banda’s house.
He said as Banda attempted to justify the ownership of the newly-acquired property, he started searching for a receipt in his suitcase where they saw one of the stolen watches, despite the accused trying to push it inside the suitcase.
Judge Nkonde said Banda had told him that he bought the watch from Katondo Street.
He identified Banda as the person who stole from his house and further identified one of the watches he had stolen, which he said was a rare watch and that he missed it.
Justice Nkonde also identified other items, which he submitted as part of his evidence.
In cross-examination, Banda challenged the complainant to state if the house was broken into but in response, the Judge said no door was broken, but that it was clear that a widow downstairs was tampered with.
Another witness, Martin Muyombo, a police officer at Longacres Police Post, testified that on July 19, 2019, that he received a complaint from Tazza Mwanza of Chalala, who is the property manager of Limpo Investment Properties on behalf of Judge Nkonde that the judge’s house had been broken into and some items were missing, together with money.
He said in the company of other officers, he went to visit the scene and when they got there, they found Judge Nkonde at his house.
Muyombo said when Judge Nkonde was interviewed, he suspected that the security guard who was on night duty, could have broken into the house.
The arresting officer said Banda was taken to Longacres Police Post where he was detained.
Muyombo said on July 20, 2019, someone informed him that Banda had deposited some money in his Airtel Mobile Money account.
He said the money was about K15,000.