A MBARE woman was on Tuesday sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after she diverted her late uncle’s pension into her bank account and squandered the money while his three children suffered.
Edith Mwanyali, 45, of Flat number 1 ZRP Mbare was convicted of fraud when she appeared before Harare magistrate Tilda Mazhande.
Six months of the sentence was suspended on condition of good behavior and another 12 months set aside on condition that Mwanyali compensates the aggrieved family by June 30.
Mwanyali will serve effective one-and-half years.
“The accused person’s moral blameworthiness is very high, considering that she would use all the money, while the beneficiaries languished in the rural areas,” prosecutor Moleen Murozvi said.
“The deceased person’s three children had school fees arrears that accrued over two years yet someone else feasted on their benefits. She must be sent to jail.”
The complainant was Moud Hotela, 33, of 1668 Jacha Close Epworth and was customarily married to the late Solomon Chimuka who was a serving Zimbabwe National Army member before he passed away in January 2011.
Hotela is the surviving spouse with three children and entitled to the deceased’s pension and benefits. However, no birth certificates were taken for the respective children to the time of their father’s death.
Prosecutor Moleen Murozvi proved that following Chimuka’s death, Mwanyali hatched a plan to prejudice Hotela from benefiting her husband’s pension and benefits.
She misrepresented to the Registrar-General’s Office that she was the sole surviving relative to the late Chimuka.
Mwanyila’s misrepresentation caused the Registrar-General to issue birth certificates in respect of three children whom she gave her own names; Everyday, Tinotenda and Farai Chimuka.
The court heard that Hotela and her late husband had never given their children such names.
Mwanyali then went to ZNA Social Welfare Department armed with fraudulent birth certificates and acquired documents which she later presented to the director of Pensions.
She further submitted her CABS Bank account as the beneficiary’s account.
The pensions’ office began releasing the deceased’s pensions and benefits into Mwanyali’s CABS account before she converted the money into personal use.
The offence was unearthed when Hotela approached ZNA Social Welfare Department to get assistance to process her later husband’s pension and benefits.
She was advised that Mwanyali had already processed the pension and approached Justice for Children lawyers who facilitated the suspension of the benefits from being deposited into the CABS account.
Hotela was prejudiced $4 015 and nothing was recovered.
Mwanyali was later arrested.—Tarisai Machakaire