Farmworkers jailed over milk cans theft

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CHARLES MUSONDA writes

TWO farmworkers have been sentenced to two years imprisonment each with hard labour for stealing four milk cans worth K15, 000 from their employer M&S Farm.

Lusaka Magistrate Beauty Malupenga on Tuesday jailed Charles Lungu and James Mudenda after finding them guilty of theft by servant but acquitted the first accused person Peter Nkhata on grounds that he was just sent to sell the cans by his two superiors.

Evidence before court was that the labelled cans went missing from the farm in August last year after which the owner spotted them at Soweto Market at Jimmy Zulu’s shop where they were displayed for sale.

The owner then reported the matter to police who later apprehended Zulu. While Zulu was at the police, Nkhata went to the shop to collect the money but he was equally apprehended by Zulu’s brother.

In her judgment, Ms. Malupenga found that it was not in dispute that the cans were removed from the farm without the owner’s authority; there was direct evidence that Nkhata took the cans to Soweto Market, and that the three accused persons were employed by the complainant.

She however found that Nkhata came in possession of the cans after they were given to him by Lungu and Mudenda, and that he was consistent in his explanation. She then acquitted him after finding him not guilty.

On Lungu and Mudenda, Ms. Malupenga found that the prosecution had proved its case against them beyond any reasonable doubt and found them guilty as charged.

In mitigation, Lungu told the court that he has a sight problem and always moves with medicine for the ailment.

“My life will be tough if I am given a custodial sentence. My life will come to an end and my children will suffer. I also look after orphans,” Lungu said while Mudenda mitigated that his wife was operated on a few days ago. “I have four children, my mother is late and my father is also late. I am unwell as I have a heart problem. There will be no one to look after my family,” he said.

Passing sentence, Ms. Malupenga considered the duo’s mitigation, adding that they are first offenders who deserved lenience. She however said looking at the circumstances under which the offence was committed and the increase in cases of dishonesty, she decided to send the pair to prison.

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