The Lusaka Magistrate court has sentenced former Ministry of Health human resource manager Henry Kapoko and four others to 18 years imprisonment with hard labour, for theft of public servant and money laundering.
And Principal Resident Magistrate Exornobert Zulu has noted with regret that people’s love for money has reached alarming levels, while the love for man has lost its course.
Meanwhile magistrate Zulu has appealed to citizens to be honest and modest in their lifestyle, saying the current obsession with money is worrying.
In this matter, Kapoko and nine others were facing 20 counts of theft by public servant involving over K6.8 Million.
The suspects were also facing 49 counts of money laundering involving 24 vehicles, two lodges, three houses, a filling station and several bank accounts, among other things.
But on Wednesday, magistrate Zulu convicted Kapoko, three accountants and an Internal Auditor for theft of public servant and money laundering, but acquitted five other persons they were jointly charged with, on account that no offence had been proved against them.
The magistrate had ordered that all convicts’ properties and accounts in which stolen money was deposited, be forfeited to the state.
And passing his sentence, Thursday, magistrate Zulu regretted that people’s love for money had reached alarming levels whereas the love for man had lost its course.
Magistrate Zulu said a custodial sentence was inescapable as the convicts greediness of stealing huge sums of money at the expense of the limping health sector had far reaching consequences.
“I do not think a statutory judgement would wipe out the anguish felt by the young medical doctor at Zimba Mission Hospital whose grant was drastically reduced to K3 million per month, only for those who after traveling for long hours, taking their sick children to the hospital to access medical treatment, to be greeted by the reality that they cannot receive the health [facilities] because there was no medicine,” he said.
“To think that there are a few mothers out there who still shade tears at the thought that had this theft not occurred, government would not have lost the good will, the donors could have not pulled out and their loved ones could not have died. The love for money has reached alarming levels while the love for man has lost its course.”
He appealed to the citizens to be honest and modest.
“Mr Kapoko, whom because of his desire for affluence stole our commonwealth [funds] with little or no regard for our brothers, sisters, children and parents lying helplessly in the hospital. I think our obsession with money is worrying. Why do we want to steal all this money and stash it away knowing that probably we would not live long enough to use it all? Please let us be honest and modest,” he said.
“Let us not deny others a fighting chance especially when one is lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life. It is also disheartening that now the things we aspire for, why would one steal money to go and buy an extra car or another person’s human hair? Is it really worth it? I know we all love our children but let’s do it honestly.”
Magistrate Zulu then went ahead to sentence the accused to 18 years imprisonment with hard labour, saying they didn’t deserve any other form of punishment.
“I do not think the convicts here deserve any other form of punishment other than a custodial sentence. I sentence the convicts individually and separately to nine years imprisonment with hard labour on each count of theft by public servant. The sentences on theft and public servant will run concurrently. I will sentence Mr Kapoko for five years imprisonment with hard labour on each count of theft, this sentence will run concurrently with those on theft of public servant,” he ruled.
“On money laundering, I will sentence convicts to nine years imprisonment with hard labour. The sentence on money laundering will run consecutively with those of theft of public servant. The convicts will thus serve a total of 18 years imprisonment with hard labour.”
Magistrate Zulu further ruled that Kapoko’s sentence was effective from December last year, whereas for the others it was effective on the day of judgement.
“In the case of Mr Henry Kapoko his sentence is effective from December 27, 2017, the date he was remanded in custody. The sentences of the rest of the convicts are effective today. All convicts have the right to appeal to the High court against both conviction and sentence,” said magistrate Zulu.