By Nation Reporter
FORMER Zambia Air Force (ZAF) commander Andrew Sakala, who was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment for stealing K1.5 million money which was meant for special operations prior to the 2011 general elections, has appealed in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s decision to uphold the judgment of the subordinate court.
This is in a case in which the three former defence chiefs including former Zambia Army commander Wisdom Lopa and former Zambia National Services (ZNS) commandant Anthony Yeta were facing a charge of theft by public servant involving K1.5 million.
In his ground of appeal, Lieutenant-General Sakala argued that High Court judge Justice Judy Mulongoti erred in law and fact when she affirmed the judgment of the subordinate court which held that he stole the money belonging to Government.
Lt-General Sakala’s co-accused, Generals Lopa and Yeta, were acquitted of the same charge after the court established that they did not have a hand in the theft.
Sakala, who was represented by defence lawyer Nganga Yalenga, was convicted by deputy director of local courts Wilfred Muma, who sat as principal magistrate.
It was alleged that Sakala, Lieutenant-General Lopa and Major-General Yeta between September 16 and 21, 2011, in Lusaka while serving in the Ministry of Defence, stole K1.5 million belonging to the ministry.
The three defence chiefs denied the charge but during their defence, Sakala admitted receiving the K1.5 million from the Zambia Security Intelligence Services (ZSIS) and claimed he gave his two co-accused K500,000 each.
Sakala told the court that the K500,000 which he allocated to himself was given to his 120 informers but that he did not account for the money because he was retired before he could do so and that he was not given an opportunity to exculpate himself before he was arrested.
Mr Muma in his judgment said Sakala was given a chance in court to account for the money but he neglected or evaded the opportunity by bringing in issues of classified information.
He said that after analyzing the information in chambers which Sakala claimed was classified, it was established that the information would not put the nation at any security risk.
Mr Muma said even during his defence, Sakala kept on ‘‘blowing hot and cold statements’’ but without rebutting the evidence given by his co-accused that they used to exchange gifts with each other using the bags Sakala claimed to have used to deliver the money.
Mr Muma said Sakala had no right of claim of the money, adding that he stole the money by depriving the Government of it permanently.
He said it was not in dispute that the K1.5 million was deposited into the ZAF account and was withdrawn at the instance of Sakala and he failed to account for it.
Mr Muma said Sakala was a witness not anchored on truth but the prosecution had failed to prove the case against Gen Lopa and Gen Yeta.