FORMER cabinet minister Petronella Kagonye has been caged for three years for diverting laptops donated by the Postal and Telecommunication Regulation Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to schools in her constituency for personal use.
Kagonye will however serve two years effective after Harare magistrate Vongai Guwuriro Muchuchuti suspended one year of her sentence on condition of good behaviour.
She was also ordered to pay US$10 000 to POTRAZ because students still have to benefit from the donation.
In passing the sentence, the magistrate considered that Kagonye is a first offender who is still taking care of a minor child.
She, however, said the sentence should be sharp and stiff to prove the point that public funds should not be abused.
“Judicial officers should not use emotions in passing sentences because it will cloud their judgement but the court takes cognisance that the accused was a former minister.
“The accused person is the best person to make sure that the schools within her constituency benefit but she decided to take the bread away from the hungry children.”
The magistrate continued; “A crime such as this is a problem to democracy and social welfare.
“The conviction certainly embraces her which is a severe punishment on its own with the serious development problems the country is facing. It is sad that one can steal public funds.
“There is a need for the accused to restitute the value of the computers so that those meant to benefit still benefit.”
Kagonye had pleaded for leniency, stating that a fine would be enough for the crime she committed.
Defence lawyer Rungano Mahuni submitted that the fact that her conviction was publicised was a punishment already.