By Isaac Zulu in Kapiri Mposhi
KAPIRI MPOSHI magistrate Arnold Kasongamulilo has sentenced a 32-year-old Lusaka businesswoman to four years imprisonment for stealing K4,250 from her friend’s Airtel Mobile Money account.
Eunice Malu of House Number 3522 Chalala extension in Lusaka stood charged and pleaded guilty to one count of theft, contrary to the law.
In count one, Malu on March 5, 2022 while in Kapiri Mposhi stole cash money amounting to K4,250, a National Registration Card bearing number 204711/94/1 and an Airtel Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card number 0975786171, the property of Loveness Katongo a fishmonger from Kasama.
In count two, Malu on March 1, 2022, knowingly and fraudulently uttered a false document namely an NRC number 204711/94/1 in the name of Loveness Katongo to Daniel Mwepu an employee of Artel Zambia, purporting to reset Airtel Mobile Money Personal Identification Number for SIM Card number 0975786171 and withdrew money amounting to K4,250 purporting to belong to her when in fact not.
In the third count Malu, on March 5, 2022 knowingly and fraudulently uttered a false document namely an NRC number 204711/94/1 in the name of Loveness Katongo to Nivilie Ndashe an employee of Airtel Zambia, purporting to replace a SIM card number 0975786171 that it was hers when in fact not.
Facts were that the complainant in this matter, Loveness Katongo, 33, a fishmonger from Kasama in February 2022 was lodging at UTTA market station in Kapiri Mposhi where she met the now Malu.
The court heard that Malu at some point requested to use the complainant’s cell phone, not knowing that she was tempering with the Mobile Money account.
The court further heard that on March 1, 2022, the complainant went to the Airtel Mobile Money booth to deposit some money but surprisingly she could not access her balance on her phone.
The Airtel agent then checked her phone and discovered that the SIM card was blocked and she was advised to go to the Airtel shop with her NRC and do a SIM card replacement.
It was submitted in court that upon reaching the Airtel shop, Katongo discovered that her NRC number 204711/94/1 was missing from her handbag and she was later informed that a person had earlier come gone to the same shop and presented an NRC bearing the same number and details and had even replaced the SIM card bearing the number 0975786171.
When Airtel staff described the person who had earlier replaced the SIM card using the said details, the Katongo realised that it was Malu and immediately started looking for her but to no avail.
The court heard that Malu was later apprehended with the help of members of the public and handed over to police where she was charged and arrested for the subject offence.
In mitigation, Malu pleaded with the court to exercise lenience on her, saying she was a single mother taking care of three-year-old twins and her aged grandmother.
But in passing judgement, magistrate Kasongamulilo noted that cases of mobile money thefts had become widespread and were depriving owners from benefiting from their hard-earned money.
Magistrate Ksongamulilo then condemned Malu to three years in the first count; four years in the second count and another four years in the third count; all simple imprisonments but to run concurrently.
This means that Malu will serve four years in prison.