The magistrate’s court has sentenced a pastor of Interdenominational Jesus Ministries in Lusaka’s Chipata Overspill to five years imprisonment with hard labour for swindling a widow out of K260, 000 which was part of her deceased husband’s benefits.
Lusaka magistrate Felix Kaoma has also ordered that Pastor John Simfukwe’s estate be sold wherever they may be found to give Mildred Chikato K265, 000.
Pastor Simfukwe was sentenced after magistrate Kaoma established that the clergyman indeed got the money from Chikato, a widow of SOS village, whose husband was working for Zambia Army, with intentions to permanently deprive the owner.
Magistrate Kaoma said he was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Pastor Simfukwe was guilty of theft by agent and accordingly convicted him of the charge.
Chikato had on August 16, 2016, and on another date, entrusted Pastor Simfukwe with K170, 000 for the purchase of a house and another K90, 000 to assist her start a business but he used the money for other purposes.
In sentencing Pastor Simfukwe, magistrate Kaoma said: “I have considered the fact that the convict is a first offender who deserves some leniency. However, given the amount involved, coupled with the fact that the person involved is a widow and also considering the issue of breach of trust, which is an aggravating factor, I will therefore be failing in my duties if I do not punish people like you to protect the vulnerable.”
He further noted that Chikato had given K33, 900 as tithe from her husband’s benefits and it was at that point that Pastor Simfukwe asked her what she wanted to use the remaining money for.
Magistrate Kaoma said the evidence that Pastor Simfukwe made part payment of K65, 000 for the house corroborated with the evidence of the widow and her sister-in-law that they gave the clergyman K170, 000 and another K90,000 for the purchase of the property.
He said there was also undisputed evidence by Pastor Simfukwe that Chikato was living in a house rented by himself as she awaited the purchase of the house, which all pointed to the fact that the former was given the money.
Magistrate Kaoma said Pastor Simfukwe also failed to account for the money he was given, and could also not give a reasonable explanation about where he took it, apart from the K65, 000 deposit paid for the house.
Chikato had told the court that she knew Pastor Simfukwe when she visited his church where he prophesied that he was seeing a spirit of death on her, after which she requested for prayers.