Zimbabwe woman sentenced to three years imprisonment for stealing tithe and offering money

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The Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in South Africa on Wednesday, November 9, sentenced a Zimbabwean woman, Lady Memory Mutsika, to 3 years of direct imprisonment for 128 counts of theft.

Mutsika,43, was a church treasurer of the Pretoria City Seventh-Day Adventist church. Her responsibilities included transferring tithe and offering money deposited to the church account, to the Northern Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

During a period of 4 years from 2012 to 2015, Mutsika transferred more than R800 000 of the money received from the tithe and offerings to her bank account and for her personal use.

In court, she pleaded guilty to the charges and asked for a non-custodial sentence to pay the church back the money over five years.

However, the state argued that Mutsika always indicated her willingness to pay back the money and has not paid back a single cent since March 2022, after she was convicted.

The magistrate agreed with the state and said Mutsika showed no remorse. He said she stopped stealing not because of her conscience, but because she was caught. The church placed her in a position of trust, but she betrayed that trust.

He further said that he viewed Mutsika’s willingness to pay back the money, as a bargaining tool and as a ticket to keep her out of prison. Therefore, a sentence of imprisonment was appropriate and criminal conduct has consequences.