ONGWEDIVA – The Oshakati High Court last week slashed the 17-year sentence of Hilka Megameno Nepembe to five years, of which three years were suspended on condition she is not convicted of fraud or theft during the period of suspension.
The sentence is backdated to September 6, 2017.
Nepembe, a former employee of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry was convicted of 14 charges of fraud valued at N$17 800 and sentenced to an effective 17-year jail term.
The court said it ascertained the 17-year sentence to be inappropriate and shocking.
“The sentence is found to be startlingly inappropriate, induces a sense of shock and there is a striking disparity between cases of a similar nature,” a judgment appeal by High Court Judges, Herman January and Marlene Tommasi indicates.
Nepembe, between November 2009 and May 2011 defrauded various people of money valued between N$1 200 and N$3 600 on the pretence that she will install water meters at their homes despite willingly knowing that she was not authorised to collect money or install water meters.
Nepembe in her plea explanation informed the court that she had refunded the money, water connections were eventually done and the water meters installed.
The court found the sentencing appropriate, as Nepembe had apologised to the victims, refunded the money and installed the water meters.
In addition, the court also found the sentencing inappropriate as Nepembe had assisted in speeding up the process of connecting water, as the ministry’s process was taking unnecessarily long.
The High Court also ruled that the court failed to take into account Nepembe’s personal circumstances as that she was 43-years at the time of sentencing, a single mother of three and a sole bread winner taking care of her 92-year-old mother.
Nepembe was arrested on August 10, 2011 and was granted bail on the 24th of the same month.
She has been out on bail until her conviction on September 5, 2017.
She has so far served eight months of her sentence.