A court in Balaka has sentenced a pastor of Hunger Ministries Church to four years in prison for stealing from 140 people.
Balaka Police spokesperson Felix Misomali has identified the pastor as Gerald Mkwiza (36) who was convicted of personating and obtaining money by false pretence contravening sections 389 (2) and 319 (1) of the Penal Code respectively.
The State Prosecutor, Sub Inspector Liston Sabola told the court that in early August this year the pastor defrauded 59-year-old man, Gerald Kholopa and 139 others of K1 000, each.
The prosecutor said the pastor told the victims that his church would be distributing relief items but to register each one had pay K1,000 for issuance of cards to be used on the day of receiving the relief items.
He therefore collected a sum of K140,000 promising to issue the cards later.
When the day came, the pastor was nowhere to be seen prompting the victims to look for him. The victims later found the pastor at his house but he failed to explain about the relief itmes.
That prompted the victims to hand him over to police who charged Mkwiza with two counts: personating and obtaining money by false pretence which he pleaded guilty before Second Grade Magistrate Victor Sibu.
In submission, the state prayed for a stiff punishment to serve as a lesson to people of Mkwiza’s character.
In his ruling, His Worship Sibu concurred with the state and sentenced the convict to four years and two years for the counts respectively, but to run concurrently.
In a related development, Balaka Third Grade Magistrate, Meya Kanyumbu has sentenced a witchdoctor, Muhammad Rashid (29), to two years in jail for defrauding a businessperson, Mable Chimbalanga of K70 000.00.
The witchdoctor advised the victim to use his charms for miracle money, and he demanded a bicycle, electric sewing machine and iron sheets worth about K400,000. She, however, found nothing in the pot she was advised to check for the miracle money on several occasions.
Gerald Mkwiza comes from Lakalaka Village, Traditional Authority Nsamala while Muhammad Rashid hails from Minama Village, Traditional Authority Kachenga. Both convicts are from Balaka.
Meanwhile, police are advising communities in the district to be vigilant and report suspicious people to police.