By CHARLES MUSONDA
A LUSAKA businessman has been sentenced to five years imprisonment with hard labour for stealing his former schoolmate’s motor vehicle after impersonating a police officer working under State House.
Lusaka Magistrate Alice Walusiku yesterday sent Chishimba Mpundu Mwelepete, 29, of Kabulonga, to prison after finding him guilty of stealing a BMW 350i registration number BAE 7957 belonging to Mr Moses Ngoi and valued at K45, 000.
Evidence before court was that in June 2018 Mwelepete approached Mr. Ngoi with a proposal to hire out his car to State House for five days at K1, 000 per day and even showed him a card as proof that he was a police officer.
After the five days elapsed, Mwelepete lied to Mr. Ngoi that State House was not releasing motor vehicles due to challenges after which he stopped picking up his phone calls.
Upon enquiring from Mwelepete’s family, Mr. Ngoi discovered that he was not a police officer but a small businessman who used to exchange clothes with other items and buy animals for resale.
Two months later the complainant reported the matter to police and Mwelepetewas only apprehended after close to two years.
He then led the police to Chingola where the car was found parked at his mother’s house.
In her judgment, Ms. Walusiku found that Mwelepete’s intention was to permanently deprive Mr. Ngoi of his car to which he had no claim of right.
She said the car was to be hired for five days but from 2018 it was only recovered on September 13, 2020 in Chingola from Lusaka.
She said Mwelepete did not challenge prosecution witnesses’ evidence and that the question of him selling the car on Mr. Ngoi’s behalf did not arise from the now convict.
Ms. Walusiku said this just showed that Mwelepete converted the vehicle to himself for him to have the courage of selling it.
“It had to take the owner to report the matter to the police and it had to take the police to apprehend the accused for the vehicle to be recovered in Chingola,” she said.
Passing sentence, Ms. Walusiku said unfortunately the offence Mwelepete was charged with carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years with hard labourwhich the court cannot reduce, adding that he is one of the young men who want to lead luxurious lives by showing off that they can afford expensive motor vehicles.