FORMER Defence minister George Mpombo has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment for theft by public servant, forgery and uttering a false document.
Chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda convicted and jailed Mpombo yesterday after he found him guilty of the offences.
Mpombo was facing three counts of forgery, uttering false documents and theft of public funds amounting to K18,000, which related to his failure to retire imprest.
In passing judgment yesterday, Mr Banda said a deterrent sentence would be appropriate so that other leaders would learn that when one was called to service, they should do it with the highest degree of integrity and honesty by accounting for public funds.
Mr Banda said he was alive to the fact that Mpombo deserved leniency because he was a first offender and a senior citizen who had served in various portfolios, including that of acting President of the Republic, but that he expected high standards of conduct.
“I propose a custodial sentence of nine months which will run effective today, 12th December, 2013,” Mr Banda said.
He said the prosecution had proved its case against Mpombo because their evidence proved that he was a participant in originating fake receipts as evidenced by his instructions to his driver to look for receipts from places where he did not even lodge.
He said that the fact that Mpombo, a former deputy high commissioner to Nigeria, had used another person to obtain the forged receipts did not absolve him of being accountable to the offence.
Mr Banda said he found it difficult to believe the testimony by Mpombo in his defence that he was not aware that the receipts were fake.
He said that there was no Luangwa Lodge as was indicated on one of Mpombo’s receipts which he submitted and that he did not even pay anything despite having been given K10, 000 from his ministry.
In his mitigation, Mpombo ‘s lawyer Abraham Mwansa asked the court not to slap a custodial sentence on his client but to consider other options of suspended sentence or community service because he was remorseful of his actions.
And Mpombo told journalists shortly after the verdict that he was “full of gusto” because he was prepared for it and knew that “despite the raging storms and gathering of dark clouds I can see sunshine behind”.
It was alleged in the first count that Mpombo between June 2008 and September 2008 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst working together with others unknown, being a public servant as Minister of Defence, stole K18,000 which came into his possession by virtue of employment.
In the second count, Mpombo is charged with forgery contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
Mpombo was alleged to have, between June 9 and September 12, 2008 in Lusaka jointly and whilst working together with others unknown forged a tax invoice number 6358 and receipts number 2846 and 4468 purporting to show that it was genuinely issued when in fact not.
In count three, Mpombo was charged with uttering a false document.
It was alleged that Mpombo between June 9 and September 15, 2008 in Lusaka, knowingly and fraudulently uttered
false documents namely two receipts, a tax invoice and retirement of special imprest forms to Winniver Simwinji Mhlanga.
Times of Zambia