By CHARLES MUSONDA
A MAN has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour for stealing 2, 405 Bibles and other related literature altogether valued at K367, 318, property of the Bible Society of Zambia (BSZ) where he worked as a sales assistant.
Before Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Dominic Makalicha yesterday was 22-year-old William Ngwenya who was sent to jail as the only punishment for the offence he committed.
Evidence before court was that in June 2021 BSZ distribution manager Derrick Mwewa discovered that the Bibles on the shelves had run out but the society’s system showed that it had enough stocks.
Upon being questioned, Ngwenya told management that he had kept the Bibles for one of the clients in Lusaka’s John Laing compound as the BSZ was an agent of the Bible Society Resources based in the United Kingdom.
After he was asked to put the Bibles back on the shelves, Ngwenya confessed to have sold them on credit to a client based at Mkushi’s Masansa area.
In his testimony during trial, the Mkushi-based client, Mr Precious Kaineti, a literature evangelist, said at one time Ngwenya phoned and told him that he needed K5, 000 but Mr. Kaineti only managed to lend him K2, 000, which he paid back within 48 hours.
Later, Ngwenya again asked Mr. Kaineti to lend him another K2, 000 which he promised to repay soon but never did so.
After some time Ngwenya asked for K20, 000 from Mr. Kaineti but after the latter told him that he was not able to give him the said amount, the now convict asked him if he had an asset he could use as collateral to obtain US$14, 000 he expected from Lusaka.
After negotiations, Ngwenya told Mr. Kaineti to persuade his older brother to release his car after which Mr. Kaineti’s older brother asked for K10, 000, which Ngwenya sent him through Airtel money.
A few days after collecting the car from Mkushi, Ngwenya phoned Mr. Kaineti and told him that some Bibles, from where he expected to get the US$14, 000, were missing from his workplace and that he (Mr. Kaineti) should agree that he got them on credit and was ready to pay if someone from BSZ asked him.
However, Mr. Kaineti later told Ngwenya that he would not be part of his problems and sent him back the K10, 000.
In his judgment, Magistrate Makalicha found that the accused person gave different statements, saying his attempt to hide key information showed that there was something he was trying to hide.
He said his decision to remain silent in his defence, in the face of overwhelming evidence although it was his right, indicated an implication and concluded that the prosecution had established ingredients of the offence and convicted him accordingly.
In sentencing Ngwenya, Mr. Makalicha told him to respect other people’s property and work hard, saying what he did was disheartening.