Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
MDC Alliance Makokoba Constituency MP James Sithole together with three accomplices allegedly embezzled more than US$4 000 and R10 000 belonging to a local burial society he chaired, a magistrate heard yesterday.
Sithole (45), Jacob Manyange (64), Raymond Gombedza (47) all from Makokoba suburb and Manyara Muzamani (49) of Cowdray Park appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Shepherd Munjanja facing theft of trust property charges.
The four men allegedly diverted to their personal use R10 000 rand, which belonged to Makokoba Burial Society after collecting the money from the treasurer Ms Margaret Sibindi.
They also allegedly squandered US$4 250, which was restituted by Ms Sibindi following her conviction and sentence for dipping her fingers into the coffers of the burial society.
The burial society was founded in 2010 by MDC party supporters in the constituency to assist members during funerals.
The MP was the burial society’s chairperson.
Prosecuting, Mr Leonard Chile said between 2010 and 2011, the accused persons acted in common purpose and sent Manyange to collect R10 000 which was being kept by Ms Sibindi who was the treasurer of the burial society at the time. It was, however, not stated in court papers why the accused persons had requested the money from Ms Sibindi.
They allegedly converted the money to their personal use and the money was not recovered.
In 2011, Ms Sibindi, who was responsible for keeping the money stole US$4 250 from the burial society and she was arrested and taken to court and convicted of theft. She was ordered to restitute the money and she complied with the court order by paying the money through the Clerk of Court at the Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court.
The court heard that Manyange went to the Clerk of Court at Tredgold building where he signed for the money and took the cash.
“Manyange signed and collected the money which was restituted by Margaret Sibindi. The four accused persons, acting in common purpose, converted the money to their personal use,” said Mr Chile.
In her testimony, Ms Sibindi told the court that the four accused persons embezzled the funds belonging to the society.
“The accused persons came and took R10 000 from me when I was still treasurer of the burial society. They did not return a single cent,” she said.
However, under cross examination by the quartet’s lawyer Mr Prince Butshe Dube of Mathonsi Law Chambers, Ms Sibindi gave incoherent responses and failed to explain to the court why she gave the accused persons the money.
“I put it to you that you are bitter woman who is all out to revenge by fixing my clients after they reported you to the police for stealing money from the burial society,” said Mr Dube.
Sithole, in his defence, said the allegations were an attempt by his political opponents to soil his image after he defeated them in last year’s elections.
The trial continues [email protected]