Kagonye jailed 3 years, magistrate says “fine would trivialise offence”
Former Public Service minister Petronella Kagonye has been sentenced to 36 months in prison following her conviction on charges of corruption and criminal abuse of office after she allegedly stole 20 laptops donated to schools in Goromonzi.
In sending her to jail, Harare regional magistrate Vongai Guwuriro said a “fine would trivialise the offence because she stole public funds”.
The magistrate set aside 12 months of the sentence on condition of good behaviour, while a further eight months were suspended on condition that she restitutes US$10 000 equivalent for the 20 laptops that she stole on or before August 31 this year.
This means she will serve an effective 16 months in jail.
“She is a former Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare whose mandate was to make sure that the less privileged are taken care of,” the magistrate said.
“She was the best person who should have understood the importance of taking the laptops to the children, but she was the one who stole the bread from the hungry,” said Mrs Guwuriro.
“It is surely a fall from grace and the conviction embarrasses her and it is a form of punishment and the court has taken note of that.
“A fine would trivialise the offence because she stole public funds and she was aware that public funds are involved. Traits of corruption can be seen and it would be a sad day for justice to give her community service.
“A custodial sentence is justified due to the high moral blameworthiness.”
Kagonye’s lawyer Rungano Mahuni said they wish to appeal against both conviction and sentence, saying there were prospects of success at the High Court.
“We will start preparing for the appeal. We are going to appeal against her conviction and sentence at the High Court,” he said.
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) donated the computers to Kagonye, which were collected by her brother Evans on her behalf and he signed the collection form.
But the computers could not be accounted for when POTRAZ made a follow-up, leading to the former minister’s arrest