Chief jailed for stealing

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A chief in Mulanje has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for stealing money meant for underprivileged people in his area.

Group Village Headman Kamwendo whose real name is Patrick Gama was found guilty by Phalombe First Grade Magistrate court on Wednesday on a charge of obtaining money by false pretence which is contrary to section 319 of the penal code. Court

The court heard that between December, 2016 and January, 2017 the chief obtained money amounting to K792,000 which was being given to people through a programme known as Social Cash Transfer being run by Oxfam.

Gama was tasked with registering beneficiaries and instead of registering one member per household he took into the system two members per household and after the money was distributed he went to the households to collect cash for the other member he had put.

Gama denied the charge levelled against him which led the state to parade six witnesses who testified against him and he was later found guilty by sitting First Grade Magistrate Damson Banda.

In mitigation, the convict pleaded with the court to consider giving him a suspended sentence considering that he has six children and that he look after orphans and his aged uncle.

In his ruling, Banda said that though it was also possible to give Gama a non-custodial sentence he took into account that the convict is a leader and that the offence which he committed is a serious one.

He also added that Gama’s conduct can make some organisations to stop helping needy people who require help after disasters such as of floods.

“Considering the offence committed this court doesn’t see that the accused can be given a suspended sentence.

“While Oxfam is trying to mitigate problems that people are facing in his area, Gama as a leader was supposed to be in the forefront making sure that the aid was being given to right people,” Banda said.

Banda then sentenced Gama to 30 months imprisonment with hard labour (IHL).

Gama hails from Kamwendo village in the area of Traditional Authority Mkanda in Mulanje district.

 

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