A 35-YEAR-OLD accountant has been sentenced to five years imprisonment with hard labour for stealing over K350,000 from his employer, Kings Pharmaceuticals.

The accountant told the court that he used the money to pay off his debts.

This is a case in which Malizani Zulu of Chungu Township was charged with theft by servant.

It was alleged that between August 1 and November 31, last year, Zulu stole K352,407 cash, the property of Kings Pharmaceuticals.

Taking plea before Lusaka Senior Resident Magistrate Felix Kaoma, Friday, Zulu admitted the charge, saying he used the money to pay off his debts.

Facts of the matter are that Zulu was employed as an accountant and part of his duties was to collect revenue and pay clients who had transacted with the firm.

The accused used to collect rentals from AMG company, a property situated in Makeni, where the tenant used to pay cash to Kings Pharmaceuticals through Zulu.

Zulu was responsible for collecting the rentals and depositing them in the company account.

It was until January last year when the company noticed that rentals had not been paid by the tenant.

When asked about the delayed payment of rentals, Zulu blamed it on the renovations being conducted on the rented company buildings.

He however assured that he would collect the money which accumulated to K325,407.90 in three months’ rental arrears.

After noticing that Zulu had failed to collect the rentals, Kings Pharmaceuticals management contacted AMG company to find out if it had failed to pay rentals.

However, the company confirmed having paid rentals to Zulu.

This prompted Kings Pharmaceuticals management to report the matter to the police.

Zulu immediately stopped reporting for work and police launched a manhunt against the accused who was later arrested.

In mitigation, the accused asked for forgiveness from his employers.

But passing sentence, Magistrate Kaoma said while the convict deserved leniency as a first offender who readily pleaded guilty, he needed to be punished for breaching trust.

“I have decided to sentence the now convict to five years imprisonment with hard labour,” said magistrate Kaoma.