FORMER Ministry of Health acting chief human resource development officer Henry Kapoko has appealed to the High Court against his conviction and the jail sentence slapped on him by the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court after it found him guilty of corruption.
Lusaka High Court deputy registrar Aridah Chulu, sitting as magistrate, found Kapoko guilty in all the six charges he was facing.
She sentenced Kapoko to two-year jail terms in each of the six counts which will run concurrently, meaning that he will be in incarceration for two years.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has welcomed the conviction of former Ministry of Health chief human resources development officer Henry Kapoko.
In a statement today, TIZ Executive Director Wesley Chibamba is however not amused with the sentence of two years that has been slapped on Mr. Kapoko.
Mr. Chibamba said for public servant theft of that magnitude (about K 20 million), 2 years is a slap on the wrist.
Mr. Chibamba said when public servants pilfer public resources, they are supposed to be punished in a manner that serves as a warning and a deterrent to other would be offenders.
“TIZ has always lamented on the way the justice system treats the corrupt and thieving public servants with kid’s gloves. When it comes to sentencing, they are given small jail terms and they walk out to continue living like kings on stolen public resources. Mr. Kapoko’s sentence was supposed to be so stiff as to send a warning to other civil servants who might be tempted to dip their fingers in public coffers”
“The public resources he stole were meant for the Ministry of Health, the institution directly in charge of saving human lives. Transparency International Zambia would like to see that this case doesn’t just end in a conviction and the accompanying cheap sentence, we would like to see the stolen public resources recovered and given back to government” Chibamba said
Mr. Chibamba has urged the Anticorruption Commission (ACC) to move in and apply for seizure of all of Mr. Kapoko’s assets pending forfeiture to the state.
He said TIZ has always emphasized on recovery of stolen resources so they can be rechanneled towards the intended purposes and so that criminals do not continue enjoying stolen wealth.
“Some of these criminals are becoming wrong role models in society since they are idolized and revered in their communities. Society should be abhorrent of stealing public resources and all those that do so should be demonized to the letter. Asset recovery should be a priority for the government. Transparency International Zambia is also very concerned at the longevity this case has taken”
“The case has dragged on for 9 years when it should have been disposed of in a shorter period. The evidence with which the conviction has been arrived at is the same evidence that has always been there. During the 9 year period, the culprits could have taken care to hide their stolen assets in offshore accounts or change ownership and basically put this stolen wealth where it is out arms reach for government. TIZ has always advocated for quick disposal of corruption related cases because dragging them has got a bearing on the case itself and on asset recovery if the culprit is convicted” Chibamba said
And the TIZ Executive Director has also urged Government through the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to punish corrupt people appropriately such that they can no longer enjoy stolen wealth.
“This calls for stiffer sentences and seizure of assets. We believe this can go a long way to deter others from committing the same crimes to the Zambian people” Mr. Chibamba said