Former Highfield legislator Psychology Maziwisa (pictured) and former ZBC news anchor Oscar Pambuka were yesterday jailed for six-and-a-half years for duping Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) of over $12 000, state media reported Thursday.
They will, however, serve three-and-a-half years each after part of the sentence was made to run concurrently.
Their jail term could be reduced by another year if they restitute ZPC $6 000, each by January 31, 2019.
Magistrate Lazini Ncube said evidence provided in court showed that there was clear misrepresentation on the part of Maziwisa and Pambuka.
“The evidence given by the State shows that the two accused (Pambuka and Mazivisa) clearly acted fraudulently towards the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) as they lied that it had to pay for coverage and advertisements when it is Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s mandate to provide coverage for all Government entities.
“Fruitful Communications did not have a contract with ZBC, therefore the two accused indirectly used ZBC to deceive ZPC. They therefore, have been found guilty on both counts,” he said.
Earlier in mitigation, the pair’s lawyer, Jonathan Samukange had suggested that they be jailed three years effective.
“In respect of the second count, a custodial sentence would not be called for. What would be fair would be to sentence the accused persons to three years effective which would be suspended as follows: one year will be suspended on account that they restitute the $12 000 whereby they will be paying $6000 each.
“A further year is suspended on condition that they do not commit the same offence for five years and the last year can be suspended on account that they do community service,” he said.
But prosecutor Michael Reza opposed this saying fraud cases are rampant, therefore it was imperative for the court to send a strong signal by giving custodial sentences to ensure that others with plans to do so are discouraged.
“Your worship, crimes of this nature need one thing which I call the doctrine of the justice of fire. If one plays around with fire, then they are bound to get burnt. In the same light, anyone who commits fraud must be given a prison sentence.
“What will be fair and just would be a prison sentence like the one that was given to former minister Samuel Undenge whose crime was linked to the accused’s,” he said.
But in passing sentence, Ncube ruled that fraud cases are on the increase, therefore, it was the duty of the court to make sure that they are justified.
“The two are first offenders, however matters like this show that there was careful planning involved in the fraud case. This is an offence that needs deterrence. On count one, I therefore sentence them to 54 months in prison, 12 months are suspended on account that they restitute ZPC on or before January 31, 2019. Another 12 months are removed on account that they do not commit the same crime.
“On count two, I sentence them to an effective 24 months which will run concurrently with the 30 months effective,” he said.
Samukange then placed the state on notice that he would be applying for bail pending appeal at the High Court. – The Herald