A Harare magistrate has described the conviction and jailing of former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Petronella Kagonye, as a “fall from grace”.
Harare regional magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti Guwuriro on Thursday sentenced Kagonye, to 36 months in prison for theft of trust property.
Muchuchuti Guwuriro on Wednesday convicted Kagonye after a full trial. Delivering the ruling the following day, the magistrate said:
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.
Kagonye was sentenced to 36 months in jail. 12 months were set aside on condition she doesn’t commit a similar offence involving dishonesty, in the next five years.
A further 8 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.
Kagonye will therefore serve an effective 16 months in prison.
Kagonye’s lawyer, Rungano Mahuni said they will file an appeal at the High Court against the conviction and sentencing.