The High Court has quashed both the conviction and sentence of former Mpilo Central Hospital staffer, Edgar Mdongo, who was jailed for five years for defrauding the hospital of R200,000.
Mdongo, who was the hospital’s chief medical equipment technician, was in December 2012, convicted of fraud after he, together with a former buyer, Dumisani Sibanda, inflated a quotation of R48,000 to read R248,000, prejudicing the medical institution of R200,000.
It was also alleged that he had been accessing the equipment department and other departments.
Mdongo was sentenced to five years imprisonment, three of which were suspended on condition that he restitutes the R200,000 while Sibanda was acquitted.
He was granted bail by the High Court in 2013 pending appeal against both conviction and sentence after arguing that the element of prejudice was not proved in his case.
Justice Francis Bere, sitting with Justice Maxwell Takuva at the criminal appeals court, upheld Mdongo’s appeal.
Mdongo was the appellant while the state was cited as the respondent. Both the state and defence counsels concurred that there were gaps in the state’s case which arose from the failure by the prosecution to produce some of the key evidence pertaining to the award of the tender.
Nokuthaba Ngwenya, for the state, conceded that the prosecution failed to prove beyond any reasonable doubt the essential elements of the offence.
In his appeal, Mdongo, though his lawyers, Mutuso, Taruvinga and Mhiribidi Legal Practitioners, said the tender was won based on the lowest quotation but for the wrong specification of the equipment ordered.
He argued that the correct equipment was subsequently quoted R248,000 hence he did not prejudice the institution.
The lawyers said the lower court was misdirected, arguing that its judgment was unclear as to what had actually happened.