The Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate Court has convicted and fined Hanna Sitima for stealing water through illegal connections.
Sitima, 48, was arrested on Tuesday 27th March, 2018 during an operation by Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and Malawi Police Service after it was discovered that she illegally connected water supply to her premises in Area 47.
She was charged with Fraudulent Appropriation of Water contrary to Section 298 (A) of the Penal Code. Despite the trial being handled at snail’s pace, on Friday 24th August, 2018 the court finally concluded the case.
The court convicted and fined Sitima K150,000 in default to serve one and half years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL), she paid the fine. Sitima hails from Ntcheu district.
This is second time Sitima, a repeated water thief, was arrested on illegal connection offence. She was once in February this year arrested on similar charge of connecting water to her premises illegally. She was fined K3.5 million by the Board-which is not yet paid.
LWB and Police have intensified a crackdown campaign on those involved in illegal water connections. On average the Board loses about K120 million every month to illegal connections. Between October 2017 and February 2018, LWB registered 104 cases of illegal connections, 54 of them were confirmed cases. About 38 cases were charged and fined amounting to K226, 359,566.16.
A total of 77,439.00m³ is estimated to have been lost due to the malpractice. Five of the cases were commercial customers, two were institutional and 47 were residential customers. And between February and May, 2018 LWB managed to uncover a total of 86 confirmed cases of illegal connection in various areas within its catchment.
“As the Board, we are doing all we can to put to end the malpractice. We are grateful to those helping us exposing those involved in illegal connections,” said Maurice Nkawihe, LWB assistant Public Relations Officer.
“We are losing a lot of money due to illegal connections. As Lilongwe Water Board we are coming up with various initiatives to help people understand the impact illegal connections have on our service delivery and the importance of exposing those involved.”
Sitima is third person to be convicted of water theft In March this year. The court convicted and fined Billy Matchado and Stephano Kambale having illegal water supply connections on their plots. Kambale was fined K100,000 in default to serve 12 month imprisonment with hard labour (IHL). While Matchado was fined K90,000 in default to serve 15 months IHL.