HARARE regional magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti Guwuriro described it as a “fall from grace,” as she sentenced former Minister, Petronella Kagonye, to 36 months in prison for theft of trust property.
Kagonye was convicted on Wednesday after a full trial.
Of the 36 months, 12 were set aside on condition the convict, Kagonye, doesn’t commit a similar offence involving dishonesty, in the next five years.
Eight months were suspended on condition she restitutes the total value of the stolen laptops, which is US$10 000, on or before 31 August, this year. Sixteen months are effective.
Magistrate Guwuriro said:
“In passing sentence, the court considered that she is a first-time female offender and is a breadwinner for her family.
“The court also considered case law that states that Judicial officers shouldn’t allow their emotions to take over their judgment and that a magistrate must be dispassionate in passing sentences and the objective of the sentence must be clear.
“It is a world trend to spare first offenders and she’s a former Minister of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare, whose mandate was to make sure that the less-privileged are taken care of.
“She was the best person who should have understood the importance of taking the laptops to the children but she was the one who stole the bread from the hungry.
“It is surely a fall from grace and the conviction embarrasses her and it’s a form of punishment and the court has taken note of that.
“A fine would trivialise the offence because she stole public funds and where public funds are involved, traits of corruption can be seen and, it would be a sad day for justice to give her community service and a custodial sentence is justified due to the high moral blameworthiness,” she said.
Speaking to H-Metro after the sentencing, Kagonye’s lawyer Rungano Mahuni said they will file an appeal at the High Court against the judgment and sentencing.
Zivanai Macharaga appeared for the State.