Ex-ZAF chief jailed 5 years for theft

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The Lusaka Magistrate Court has sentenced former Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Commander Andrew Sakala to five years imprisonment with hard labour for theft of public funds.

On Monday this week, the court convicted Lieutenant General Sakala after it found him guilty of theft by public servant involving K1.5 million which was meant for security wings’ operations before and during the 2011 general elections.

General Andrew Sakala’s two co-accused, former Zambia National Service Commandant Anthony Yeta and former Zambia Army Commander Wisdom Lopa, were acquitted of the same charges last Monday after the prosecution team failed to link them to the case in question.

And in mitigation through his lawyer Nganga Yalenga, General Sakala asked the court to exercise maximum leniency on him as he was a first offender and was remorseful of his actions.

He further said he was bread winner who has many dependents looking up to him and that he contributed immensely to the peace and tranquility of Zambia by ensuring a smooth transition of power from the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) to the Patriotic
Front (PF) in 2011.

In passing sentence, Deputy Director of Local Courts Magistrate Wilfred Muma, who sat as a magistrate, said he had taken into account the fact that the convict was a first offender.

Magistrate Muma however noted that the offense he had committed was a serious one which attracts a maximum sentence of 15years imprisonment with hard labour hence the need to punish offenders of his caliber to deter other would be offenders.

After the sentence, Gen. Sakala’s lawyer told the court that he had lodged a notice of appeal against his client’s conviction during the week.

But magistrate Muma expressed shock saying the appeal was prematurely done as it was lodged before then case was disposed off.

Magistrate Muma therefore stayed the application of appeal saying the defense should lodge in a fresh application against the conviction and sentence.

The three former defense chiefs were jointly charged for theft of public funds involving K1.5 million meant security wings convert operations during the 2011 general elections.