Thieving accountant escapes jail

HARARE - An accountant with the ministry of Energy and Power Development who forged travelling and subsistence allowances will perform 315 hours of community service.

Silas Gwakwakwa, 31, was convicted on fraud charges on his own plea by Harare magistrate Takunda Mutetwa.

Mutetwa sentenced Gwakwakwa to 14 months in prison before suspending four months on condition of good behaviour.

The remaining nine months were suspended on condition that he performs 315 hours of community service at Zimuto Primary School from June 27.

Gwakwakwa pleaded for the court’s leniency saying he lost his job and had paid back the money.

The complainant in the case was the Energy and Power Development ministry represented by its internal auditor, Raymond Chikota.

Prosecutor Stylon Marufu proved that in 2009, Gwakwakwa performed duties outside Harare and was entitled to travelling and subsistence allowances.

His travel and subsistence allowances covered breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation.

The ministry’s maximum approved bed and breakfast at hotel rate per day was $20.

Unapproved meals were breakfast $3, lunch $5 and dinner $5.

On July 20, 2009 Gwakwakwa submitted travelling and subsistence allowances purporting that he booked at Regency Hotel Chevron in Masvingo.

He claimed $500 for accommodation for five people from July 6 to 7 using a fake invoice.

Investigations by the ministry’s audit team revealed that a duplicate copy of the same invoice at the hotel had a face value of $4.

On July 28, 2010 Gwakwakwa submitted another travel and subsistence form claiming that he booked at Christmas Pass Hotel in Mutare from June 16 to 17, 2010.

He claimed that he paid $190 for accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Investigations later revealed that Gwakwakwa never booked at the hotel; instead he booked at Express Holiday Inn in Beitbridge.

He used the same modus operandi on December 28, 2010 and claimed $260 but investigations revealed that he never booked at the hotel.

He also submitted that he had booked at Kingdom Hotel, Victoria Falls from December 16 to 17, 2010 for $310.

The total amount that Gwakwakwa prejudiced the ministry was $803.

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