The Zomba Senior Resident Magistrate court has sentenced a 40-year-old civil servant to six years imprisonment with hard labour for stealing K8 million meant for orphans.
According to State Prosecutor, Louis Makiyi, the convict Hastings Mwachibe was working at Balaka District Council as a clerk in the deceased estate office.
Between 2006 and 2013, he stole money amounting to MK8,031,254 which was deposited with his office for beneficiaries whose parents had died.
Mwachibe also falsified the ledger book where such information were recorded by covering up figures with pieces of paper and allowing false signature to be entered in an attempt to cover up the fraud.
Appearing before court, Mwachibe pleaded not guilty to the charges of theft by public servant and falsification of registers a development that forced the State to parade 15 witnesses including two District Commissioners and the beneficiaries.
After a full trial, Mwachibe was found guilty and consequently convicted.
In his submission before sentencing, Makiyi asked the court to impose a stiff punishment as nothing was recovered and taxpayer’s money has been lost as the government has to pay compensation to the victim.
Makiyi further told the court that the convict abused his office and privileges and his conduct compromised the trust in government machinery in handling deceased estate hence the need for him to be given a stiff punishment.
Senior Resident Magistrate Wyson Chamdimba Nkhata bemoaned the accused person’s conduct which doubled the suffering of the orphaned children.
He said despite losing parents, the children also lost their money that meant a lot to their lives and education.
He then concurred with the state that Mwachibe’s conduct also defeats the whole purpose of depositing gratuity for minors with government in fear of guardians who might squander the minors’ money before the children reach maturity or complete their studies.
The senior resident magistrate therefore sentenced the convict to 6 years imprisonment with hard labour for theft by public servant and two years for falsification of registers but the sentences are to run concurrently.
Hastings Mwachibe comes from Guta village, Traditional Authority Bibi Kulunda in Salima district.