CHARLES MUSONDA writes
A BRICKLAYER has protested in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he has been punished for a crime he did not commit.
Martin Mwachi, 36, made the protest on Friday before Magistrate Felix Kaoma jailed him three years and four months with hard labour for stealing and slaughtering four goats and two sheep all valued at K2, 900.
Mwachi was charged for stock theft, which happened at Fresh Farm on September 20, 2018 in Lusaka.
In his judgment, Mr. Kaoma said circumstantial evidence before court was that the accused person was on the material date seen around 02:00 hours jumping over the farm’s wall fence “and the only inescapable conclusion is that he was among people who stole and slaughtered the animals and had intended to deprive the owner of the animals permanently.
“I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt under provisions of Section 275 (1) and 272 of the Penal Code Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia and I find the accused guilty and convict him accordingly.”
Section 2727 reads: “Any person who steals anything capable of being stolen is guilty of the felony termed “theft”, and, unless owing to the circumstances of the theft or the nature of the thing stolen some other punishment is provided, is liable to imprisonment for five years,” while Section 275 (1) reads: “If the thing stolen is any of the following, that is to say: a horse, mare, gelding, ass, mule, camel, ostrich, ram, ewe, whether, goat or pig, or the young of any such animal, the offender is liable- (a) in the case of a first offence, to imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years
Asked to give his mitigation, a furious looking Mwachi said he did not understand how the court could find him guilty and that he was being punished “for the sin I did not commit.”
Mr. Kaoma then noted that even if the convict had not mitigated, he was a first offender who deserved lenience.
He however said due to the prevalence of stock theft, he decided to sentence Mwachi to 40 months imprisonment with hard labour and told him that he has a right to appeal to the High Court within 14 days after the verdict.