Tuesday 18 October 2022


FORMER Cabinet minister Petronella Kagonye’s appeal against conviction and sentence for criminal abuse of office was dismissed yesterday by High Court judges of appeal Benjamin Chikowero and Rodgers Manyangadze.

Kagonye was jailed for three years by Harare magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro who found her guilty of theft after she converted laptops donated to rural schools by the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) to personal use.

Twelve months of her sentence were suspended on condition of good behaviour. A further eight months were suspended on condition that she restitutes Potraz US$10 000.

In her appeal, Kagonye said the sentence was too harsh and excessive.

The judges, however, upheld Muchuchuti-Guwuriro’s ruling.

“The appellant, who had the onus to persuade us that the sentence is shocking did not go beyond asserting that the sentence is disturbingly inappropriate.

“The sentence does not shock us. If anything, it appears to err on the side of leniency. But that is besides the point,” they said.

“The trial court took into account the fact that at the time the offence was committed, the appellant was the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Accordingly, one of her key result areas was to enhance social protection of vulnerable groups in the country.”

They said Kagonye abused her position of trust.

“She became an obstacle to social development. She diverted laptops acquired using public funds to her own selfish ends.

“To that extent, the trial court discerned traits of corruption in the way that the appellant committed the offence and was mindful of that in assessing the sentence," the judges ruled.

Chikowero and Manyangadze said the court was correct in suspending a portion of the sentence on the condition that she pays US$10 000 to Potraz.

They said a community service sentence would have sent a wrong message to society. Newsday


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