AN elder at Reformed Church in Zimbabwe Hatfield parish can avoid prison if he pays back the US$14 482 he stole from the church.
After sentencing Pearson Chiroodza to 12 months in jail, Magistrate Mrs Charity Maunga suspended three months on condition that he does not commit a similar offence within the next five years and suspended the remaining nine months on condition that Chiroodza pays back before June 30 next year, the US$14 482 he stole from the safe deposit box.
Prosecutor Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa told the court that between August 7 last year and May this year, Chiroodza was responsible for receiving and banking church funds.
During this period, Chiroodza was given US$14 674 to deposit into the church’s safe deposit box at CABS Bank in Borrowdale.
But Chiroodza would also take the cash out of the box, without authorisation and without telling anyone.
The theft came to light on May 12 this year when another elder in the church, Samson Makwara, went to CABS Borrowdale to deposit some church funds and found the safe deposit box almost empty, holding just US$192 and ZAR260.