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A Belvedere maid who was convicted of stealing US$700 000 from her employer was yesterday sentenced to an effective eight years in prison.

Euna Tsekwete (32) of Shamva pleaded not guilty to theft charges, but was convicted last Friday after a full trial.

Harare magistrate Mr Temba Kuwanda sentenced Tsekwete to 13-years in prison and suspended five years on condition that she does not commit a similar offence in the next four years.

The court also ordered that $8 500 recovered from Tsekwete and house number 198B in Shamva’s Wadzanai suburb or equivalent value be given to the complainant Mr Jamil Farogh.

In passing sentence Mr Kuwadza said Tsekwete’s claim that she failed to overcome the sudden temptation of looting after stumbling upon the substantial amount of money could not be an excuse.

“If she is given a non-custodial sentence it will send a wrong message that stealing is a good risk to take,” he said.

However, Tsekwete’s two alleged accomplices, Rebecca Kawe (28) and Sheila Nyandoro (30) were cleared of the charges after the court ruled that evidence produced in court did not incriminate them.

In mitigation, Tsekwete represented by her lawyer, Mr Nicholas Chikono, pleaded for leniency saying she was not in a position to restitute her former employer Mr Farogh of his money.

“I was employed as a house maid earning a meagre $200 and could not resist the sudden temptation when I stumbled upon the $700 000. I thought since I was working for a rich man, if I took a portion of the wealth he might not feel the pinch,” she said.

Mr Reza alleged that Kawe stumbled upon cash amounting to $700 000 which Mr Jamil Farogh left in one of the drawers in the kitchen while travelling to Gweru.

Kawe allegedly approached Tsekwete and Nyandoro and informed them about the money before they connived to steal it.

At the time of their arrest, Tsekwete had bought two houses in Shamva, a Mazda 323 and had $8 500 cash.

Source : The Herald