By Staff Reporter
HIGH Court judge, Justice Benjamin Chikowero, has lashed out at jailed former minister, Petronella Kagonye after she the sought Supreme Court’s intervention in her appeal against imprisonment, stating that the magistrate who jailed her was too clement.
Chikowero said this while delivering judgement after Kagonye applied for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court.
This was after her application against conviction and sentence was trashed by High Court judges of appeal.
Chikowero said courts should set an example that committing a similar offence will not be a walk in the park to would be public office offenders.
“I am not at all persuaded that there is a reasonable prospect of success in arguing that the sentence imposed induces a sense of shock. It appears the trial court actually erred on the side of lenience,” said the judge.
“The learned judge suspended a third of the custodial term on the usual condition of good behavior. She did not end there. She went on to suspend a further eight months imprisonment on condition that the applicant paid restitution to leave the period of incarceration at 16 months if the applicant effects full restitution.
“Considering the court’s tough stance in sentencing high ranking officers convicted of corruption related offenses, the applicant, it seems to me, was indeed fortunate relative to sentence. The application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court be and is dismissed in its entirety,”he ruled.
Kagonye is locked up at Chikurubi Female Prison after she was found guilty of theft of trust property.
The former minister was slapped with a three year jail term by a Harare magistrate but was left to serve 16 months effectively after part of her sentence was suspended on condition that she pays US$10 000 restitution to Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) and does not commit a similar offence in five years.
Kagonye was convicted of theft after she was found guilty of personalising 20 laptops that were meant to benefit schools in her Goromonzi South constituency through the e-learning project.
She was given the laptops 20 laptops through Potraz and was given the discretion to choose the schools she wanted to benefit for purposes of the e- learning project.
Kagonye then authorised her brother, Evans Kagonye to collect on her behalf.
While fully aware that she had to donate the 20 laptops to schools in her constituency, Kagonye decided to donate three laptops to a school for the physically impaired in Ruwa and misappropriated the other 17.
Kagonye was initially charged with theft, criminal abuse of office as well as fraud.
However, she was acquitted of the other two at the close of the State.
The judges who dismissed her appeal also ruled Kagonye was a disgrace to society.
They said, “She became an obstacle to social development.”