FORMER Armcor managing director Muhammad Patel has been convicted and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour after the Lusaka magistrate’s court found him guilty of stealing a Tata truck belonging to his former employer. The truck was valued at more than K240, 000.
Deputy director of local courts Wilfred Muma, who sat as principal resident magistrate, yesterday said the prosecution had established its case beyond any reason doubt that Patel had fraudulently deprived Armcor of its property.
Patel, 40, of House Number 397A/2/A5/5 Mosque Road in Makeni in Lusaka was charged with theft by director contrary to the law.
It was alleged that Patel between December 12, 2007 and 2011 in Lusaka, being the managing director of Armcor, stole a Tata truck, registration number ACK 435, valued at K246, 240, the property of Armcor.
Mr Muma said from his findings, it was clear that Patel stole the Tata truck from Armcor and converted it to his personal use.
He said Patel stole the vehicle immediately after it was collected from Tata Zambia Limited because there was no reference or clue connecting the acquisition of the truck in his favour, but he later sold it.
“I shall not dwell much on the subsequent sale of the truck as this simply confirms the theft of an incident of money laundering on the part of the accused,” he said.
He said the defence by Patel that the truck was used to offset the company’s debt and was to recover it at a later stage did not hold because he clearly stole the truck of his former employer.
He said Patel siphoned the company asset in favour of himself by converting it to his personal use.
In mitigation, Patel, through his lawyer Lubinda Linyama, asked for leniency, saying he was a first offender and the bread winner in his family.
He said Armcor had somehow benefitted from the money after the truck was sold.
And speaking after the judgment, Armcor chief executive officer Garry Wadey paid tribute the inspector general of the police and her team for being vigilant and for being professional in the manner they handled the matter.