MANGOCHI ( Arnold Namanja, Mana) –First Grade Magistrate Court in Mangochi on Tuesday convicted and sentenced a man to a two year prison term upon finding him guilty of misappropriating company money.
Police Prosecution witness, Liston Sabola told the court that the accused, Peter Nastanzio committed the offence in June this year when he failed to provide a proper account of funds entrusted with him by his employer.
Sabola said the accused during the month of June at Nankumba Cotton Buying Depot in the district being an employee of Malawi Cotton Company stole 4600 kilogrammes of cotton valued at K966, 000.
“In brief, the accused, your worship had been working with the Malawi Cotton Company as a cotton buyer for close to five years and sometime in June this year the company entrusted him with the said amount to buy the crop produce on behalf of the company which he failed to account for,” Sabola said.
The court learnt that the anomaly was discovered when the company’s supervisor visited the depot to dispense more funds for purchasing the cotton only to realize that there was a shortfall of some kilogrammes.
The discovery, the court further heard, led to an investigation which showed that claims by the accused that some of the cotton was yet to be delivered by farmers were false.
“When the matter was pursued, it was discovered that there was no cotton left with farmers as per the accused claims,” the court heard.
It was also heard in court that change in the accused life style and extravagance also corroborated the suspicion by the employer that he may have swindled the money since he had managed to buy a number of luxurious household items at once.
However, Nastanzio who in the first place pleaded not guilty and denied the charge of theft by servant which is contrary to section 286 of the penal code was found liable after a couple of witnesses testified to implicate him in the case.
In mitigation, Nastanzio asked the court to exercise leniency when passing sentence on the basis that he has a chronically ill wife and a number of children who look up to him for support.
But delivering the sentence, First Grade Magistrate, Ronald M’bwana observed that the accused deserved a custodial punishment because he had breached the trust the company had in him.
“The court has taken the mitigation into consideration but given the manner in which the crime was committed, I am duty bound to mete out a custodial sentence which should serve two purposes; one as a lesson to the offender and secondly as a deterrent to others contemplating to commit a similar offence,” M’bwana charged.
M’bwana also ordered that all the goods bought with the alleged stolen money be forfeited to Malawi Cotton Company to cover up for the loss incurred.
Nastanzio, 31, hails from Khoswe Village in the area of Traditional Authority Nsamala in Balaka.