By Hardlife Zuweni
CHIPINGE – Former Delta Beverages’ Chipinge branch debtor clerk, James Simango, who stole $40 000 from his employer was on Monday sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
Simango who was pleading not guilty was convicted on four counts of fraud by Mr Clemence Ngweshiwa after a full trial. Mr Ngweshiwa said the State which was led by Mr Themba Dhliwayo had managed to prove a prima facia case against Simango.
Simango who was sentenced to five years on each count may serve only 30 months effectively after the rest were suspended on condition that he restitutes his ex-employer the $40 397 he stole. The court heard that the offences were committed between April and July 2011.
Evidence led by the State revealed that Simango diverted funds that he received on behalf of Delta from clients to his personal use. The court heard that between April and July 2001, Simango received $23 000 from Rana Brothers as payment for beverages and a receipt was issued.
Simango, however, approached the client, took the receipt, cancelled it and pocketed the money.
During the same period, Simango did the same with $3 345 he received from another client. He also cancelled a receipt to the tune of $9 477 belonging to Rimbi Wholesalers and pocketed the money. He failed to issue another receipt to the customers.
The case which exposed Simango’s shenanigans involved Mapepa Wholesalers after the owners made a follow up on their receipt Simango had cancelled without their consent. Simango is said to have made a transaction with a customer, Adonia Hamutyi of Mapepa Wholesalers involving $4 522.
Mr Dhliwayo said Simango did not deposit the amount into the company’s account, but converted it into his own use. To cover up for the misdemeanor, Simango took the receipt from Hamutyi and cancelled it and filed the cancelled receipt.
Delta’s loss control officer, Mr Tom Chinanga, who testified in court, said according to their internal investigations, they discovered that Hamutyi continued to pester Simango for his invoice which the latter had taken “to make necessary verifications”.
“In order to silence Hamutyi, Simango forged another invoice for Hamutyi (Number 021297). However, in August of that year, Simango went Away Without Official Leave and when the company finance department did reconciliations month-end August it was discovered that the money was not reflecting in the books.
“Efforts to trace Simango’s whereabouts were fruitless as he was on the run and we had to involve the police. I have no shred of doubt that he converted the money to his own use,” said Mr Chinanga.
Simango denied ever being on the run, saying that on the days he was absent from work he had gone to seek medical attention and said he had documents to support that. Simango said the money did not reflect in the company records due to delays on the part of the bank.
Mr Chinanga admitted that delays were sometimes experienced and the money would reflect after some days. He, however, said Simango’s case was a clear case of fraud as even in April 2013 more than a year after the “transaction”, the bank does not have any record of it.
In passing sentence, Mr Ngweshiwa said Simango betrayed the trust the employer bestowed on him.
“What is aggravating this case is that you betrayed the trust the employers had on you. The whole amount was not recovered and that the offence was done systematically over a period of time showing that you were determined,” said Mr Ngweshiwa.