Makokoba MP acquitted of embezzling burial society funds

A Bulawayo magistrate, Thursday, acquitted Makokoba Member of Parliament James Sithole and two other accomplices who were facing charges of embezzling burial society funds.

Sithole (45), Jacob Manyange (64), Raymond Gombedza (47) Manyara Muzamani (49) had pleaded not guilty to two counts of theft of trust property charges.

Sithole, Gombedza and Muzamani were acquitted of both counts while Manyange was ordered to proceed to defence and he had a case to answer.

Magistrate Shepherd Mnjanja ruled that the witnesses brought in by the State failed to provide concrete evidence to show that the three had actually taken the money.

Manyange, who is represented by Butshe Dube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, was remanded to February 7.

“The state failed to prove a prima-facie case at the close of the state case. Witnesses brought to testify failed to explain to the court where or when the accused persons were given the money. The person who is purported to have given you the money didn’t even come to testify,” said Mnjanja.

“The state admitted it was flogging a dead horse. These three accused persons are hereby acquitted of all charges while accused one (Manyange) is acquitted of only one count. He told this court that he only received US$1440 and that is the amount he is prepared to answer for.”

Prosecuting, Mr Leonard Chile said between 2010 and 2011, the accused persons acted in common purpose and sent Manyange to collect R10 000 which was being kept by one Sibindi who was the treasurer of the burial society at the time.

It was, however, not stated in the court papers why the accused persons had requested the money from Sibindi.

Chile said they allegedly converted the money to their personal use and the money was not recovered.

The court heard that in 2011 Sibindi, who was responsible for keeping the money, stole US$4 250 from the burial society and she was arrested and taken to court and convicted of theft.

She was ordered to restitute the money and she complied with the court order by paying the money through the Clerk of Court at the Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court.

The money was then collected by Manyange from the Clerk of Court at Tredgold building.

“Manyange signed and collected the money which was restituted by Margaret Sibindi. The four accused persons, acting in common purpose, converted the money to their personal use,” said Chile. 

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