A 43-year-old Zimbabwean woman has been jailed for an effective three years for stealing R800 000 in tithe money in South Africa over the last four years.
Memory Mutsika was convicted by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for 128 counts of theft.
At the time of committing the offence, she was the 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.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson for Pretoria, Ms Lumka Mahanjana, said today that between 2012 and 2015, Mutsika transferred more than R800 000 of the money received from the tithe and offerings to her bank account.
She said Mutsika converted the money to her personal use and pleaded guilty to the charges. She had asked for a non-custodial sentence to enable her to repay the church the money over five years.
“However, the State argued that Mutsika always indicated her willingness to pay back the money and had not paid back a single cent since March 2022 after her conviction,” said Ms Mahanjana.
“The magistrate agreed with the State and said Mutsika showed no remorse, and that she only 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.”
She continued; “Therefore, a sentence of imprisonment was appropriate and criminal conduct has consequences.”