Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
THE trial of MDC Alliance Makokoba Constituency MP James Sithole, who together with three accomplices are facing charges of embezzling more than US$4 000 and R10 000 belonging to a local burial society he chaired, has been postponed to January.
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.
They were remanded out of custody to January 9 for continuation of trial.
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 chairman.
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.
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.
Mr Prince Butshe Dube is representing the four accused persons.
Four more witnesses are expected to testify when the trial resumes next [email protected]