FORMER Ministry of Health senior human resource and development officer Henry Kapoko and his co-accused Edwin Ushibantu have been convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment each and asked to pay back the K176,220 to Government.
Magistrate Lameck Ng’ambi said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and found Kapoko and Ushibantu guilty of corrupt practices.
In the first count, Kapoko is charged with abuse of authority of office and in the second count, he is charged with corrupt practices by public officer. In the third count, Ushibantu is charged with corrupt practices with a public officer.
Mr Ng’ambi found that Kapoko had no authority to commit the government to paying for students at ESU Nursing School when he had no position in the Ministry of Health structure to do so.
He said the duo’s act was arbitrary and that the K40,000 that Ushibantu gave to Kapoko was a bribe to facilitate the illegal sponsorship of Ministry of Health staff to study at ESU School of Nursing.
Before sentencing, Kapoko asked the court, through his lawyer Kelvin Bwalya, to exercise leniency as he was a first offender and that he is responsible for seven children, the youngest being four years old and the oldest 20 years old and attending university.
He said there were no special circumstances to warrant the court to deny him leniency and that there were no aggravating circumstances in the matter.
Kapoko said the shame which follows conviction will haunt him in his professional career, social and family life and further begged the court not to impose a custodial sentence.
The State reminded the court that section 42 of the Anti-Corruption Act requires that a convict reimburses ‘the rightful owner the value or what was actually received and that the rightful owner in this case was Government’.
Mr Ng’ambi said the offence committed by Kapoko and Ushibantu was serious and had a maximum sentence of 12 years imprisonment. He sentenced Kapoko to six months in jail in the first count.
In the second and third counts, Kapoko (right) and Ushibantu were sentenced to two years imprisonment. In the case of Kapoko, the sentences are to run concurrently.
Mr Ng’ambi also ordered Kapoko to reimburse Government the K40,000 that he received and that Ushibantu is to pay back to Government K136,220.
Kapoko applied for bail pending appeal to the High Court.
It is alleged in the first count that Kapoko committed Government to be paying for Ministry of Health employees’ studies at ESU School of Nursing without following laid down procedure and he is also alleged to have received K40,000 from Ushibantu.
It was alleged that on dates unknown but between November 1, 2006 and May 31, 2009 in Lusaka, Ushibantu, being a director and shareholder in ESU School of Nursing, corruptly offered Kapoko K40,000 as an inducement to facilitate the illegal sponsorship of Ministry of Health staff to study at the said school.
The Global Fund had remitted funds to Zambia to help address the high levels of maternal mortality and HIV/ AIDS. The organisation stopped funding the country.