By Mashonaland East Correspondent
A 19-year-old high school pupil has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing US$4 200 from a car that had been involved in a road accident last August along the Chivhu-Gutu road.
Tambaoga Dovi, a Form Four student at Chiriga Secondary School, has however appealed against both conviction and sentence at the High Court.
High Court Judge, Garainesu Mawadze heard that Dovi and one Jonathan Chikoromondo, on 21 August this year at around 0300 hours witnessed an accident along the Chivhu-Gutu road, in which a 41-year-old man was involved. The pair rushed to the scene, but did not help any of the injured persons.
Instead, the two opened the driver’s door and stole US$4 200 which they later shared. Nothing was recovered.
They were sentenced to 24 months in prison each, with six months imprisonment suspended for five years.
However, Dovi’s sentence was set aside on appeal by Justice Mawadze who ruled that he was still a pupil and it was also unwise for him to restitute the stolen money.
“What pricked my judicial conscience is the fact that the 19 year-old accused is not only a youthful first offender but is currently in form four at Chiriga Secondary School,” Justice Mawadze said.
“The implication of an effective prison term is that the accused is no longer attending school, thus ruining his future. Currently other pupils are busy writing their examinations.”
However Justice Mawadze said there was no doubt that Dovi’s moral blameworthiness was very high.
“The accused exhibited a very high degree of cruelty. He decided not to help the injured but to steal the money. Such conduct is immoral and deserves censure.
“Be that as it may, some degree of leniency was required. The accused is a youthful first offender. He is no longer attending school as he was incarcerated. There was an element of sudden temptation when he saw the cash,” the judge said.
Justice Mawadze added that the trial magistrate had conceded that he did not carry out proper inquiry to properly assess the sentence and this constituted a misdirection.
“Further, the sentence of 24 months imprisonment is rather severe in view of the accused’s age, the amount involved and other mitigatory factors.
“I shall direct the trial magistrate to immediately call the accused from prison and to carry out proper inquiry into community service. The trial magistrate should take into account the period that accused has already served from 9 September 2019 and also that he is attending school possibly writing examinations,” said the High Court Judge.