AN ECO-CASH agent was last week slapped with a 16-month jail term for defrauding unsuspecting clients. Nyasha Paunganwa (30) contravened Section 136 of the Criminal law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23 when she defrauded 20 clients of $6 000 on different occasions.
She was convicted on her own guilty pleas to all 20 counts of fraud. She however, denied one count and the matter was remanded to October 3. Ms Perseverance Makala presided over the matters last Tuesday. She sentenced Paunganwa to 16 months imprisonment, three of which were wholly suspended for three years on condition of good behaviour. She further suspended another four months on condition that Paunganwa restitutes all complainants of their money by December 29.
Paunganwa will serve effective nine months in prison for the 12 counts. She was set to be sentenced on the remaining eight counts yesterday (Thursday). Paunganwa who operated an Eco-cash booth at Makunike Shop, in the Central Business District would let clients cash-out money from their Eco-cash accounts at her booth and promise to give them their cash the following day. She, however, would fail to give them their money and convert it to her own use.
Cash prejudiced from all clients amounted to $6 000 and nothing was recovered. In mitigation, Paunganwa told the court that she was in the business of buying cash from illegal cash vendors and give it to her Eco-cash clients.
“Your Worship, I get paid on commission which is why I needed to have as much money from cash-outs as possible. I, however, failed to pay the clients as expected because of the cash crisis in the country and because the man I bought cash from was nowhere to be seen when I wanted him the most,” she explained.
After her sentence, she begged the court that she be released so that she could look for the $6 000 and restitute the complaints before December 29, like what the court had ordered. However, Ms Makala would not hear of it and told her that she had to find other means to look for the restitution money before the due date from prison, otherwise she would serve the suspended four months in jail.
“The court cannot reverse its sentence. You can only make an appeal at a higher court if you need it reversed. You have to look for the restitution money while in jail. Failure to do so will see you serving the suspended sentence as well,” said Ms Makala.