By Matabeleland North Correspondent
A Hwange man has been jailed 34 months after he stole a cell phone and went on a buying spree in Hwange and Bulawayo using the victim’s Ecocash account.
Timothy Phiri (29) of NS32 Makwika village, Hwange stole a cell phone from Mcendisi Mpofu of Ingagula in coal mining town and travelled to Bulawayo using the latter’s Ecocash account to pay for transport and also buy other things.
Court was told this past week that Phiri spent $1 900 in 12 transactions using Mpofu’s Ecocash account.
He had also earlier broken into a house in Hwange and stole groceries, cell phones and clothes with a combined value of more than $9 000.
Magistrate Rangarirai Gakanje found Phiri guilty of a combined 16 counts of unlawful entry and theft.
She sentenced him to a total of 34 months in jail before suspending 10 months for five years on condition of good behaviour.
A further eight months were suspended on condition that Phiri repaid to the complainant, the stolen money before 31 May.
He will serve a total of 16 months in jail.
Prosecuting, John Mutyakaviri said Phiri committed the offences between 22 April and last Wednesday.
“On 22 April the accused proceeded to Empumalanga suburb where he gained entry into Innocent Dube’s house by unlocking the front door.
“He got the keys from under a stone in the yard where the complainant had left them.
“While inside, Phiri stole two cell phones, an empty bucket, cooking oil, bathing soap, sugar, toothpaste, toothbrush, clothes, plates and cups and went away unnoticed,” said the prosecutor.
On another day, Phiri went to Don Bosco where he found Mpofu who was working at a construction site.
He pretended to be a destitute and asked for food.
The two sat down chatting. Mpofu made an Ecocash transaction to another person using his phone in full view of Phiri who saw the Personal Identification Number (PIN) and memorised it.
An unsuspecting Mpofu left Phiri as he went to do an errand in the same premises and upon return, he found him gone with his cell phone with an Econet line, some clothes and cooked rice which was in a lunchbox.
Phiri later boarded a haulage truck going to Bulawayo and along the way, he also stole two cell phones from the driver.
He used Mpofu’s Ecocash account to make eight transactions along the way.
The truck driver only discovered after dropping off Phiri that his phones had been stolen.
Phiri was arrested in Bulawayo and taken to Hwange to appear in court.