Pharmacist’s 5-year sentence for theft of drugs affirmed by Ndola High Court

By Staff Reporter

A Pharmacist has lost an appeal in the Ndola High Court where he was challenging the five-year sentence slapped on him by the magistrates’ court for alleged theft of drugs.

This is in a case where Keagan Simwale, 35, a former pharmacy technologist at Arthur Davison Children’s Hospital (ADH), was sentenced to five years imprisonment with hard labour for unlawful possession of diazepam.

On June 27, 2017, Simwale was charged with unlawful possession of narcotic drugs without lawful authority.

It is illegal to possess diazepam which is also known as valium.

The court heard that sister-in-charge at St Dominic Mission Hospital, Elizabeth Njovu, reported to the police about the drugs that Simwale had collected and never delivered at ADH.

Police apprehended Simwale and found the said drugs in a vehicle belonging to his friend.

The Court heard that Simwale who was on leave at time, went to various clinics in the district and collected essential drugs on the pretext that his hospital was in need of them.

At the time of his arrest, police found 100 ampoules of liquid diazepam in 20 boxes with each weighing one gram.

ADH management also told the court that it was not aware of any order of such drugs from the health institution.

Simwale denied the charge saying he was assigned to collect medicines from the clinics by the hospital, a defence he failed to substantiate in court.

Ndola resident magistrate Bubala Sikalunda found Simwale guilty and convicted him accordingly.

She was satisfied that Simwale was in possession of large amounts of a narcotic drug at a time he was on leave and had no authority to be found with the drugs in quantities of 100 ampoules because the medicine was meant for patients.

Magistrate Sikalunda said the large quantities suggested that such possession was not necessary for his practice or exercise of his profession, function or employment.

She said theft of drugs in government and health institutions meant that people were deprived an opportunity to access medication.

Magistrate Sikalunda said there was a rise in misappropriation and theft of medicines in health institutions, an act that disadvantaged members of the public.

But Simwale appealed his conviction in the Ndola High Court.

However, the Ndola High Court has dismissed his appeal against the five-year sentence slapped on him.

When the matter came up yesterday for judgment, High Court Judge Kelvin Limbani said Simwale’s appeal was misconstrued.

He dismissed it for lack of merit.

“I should also state that the argument by the appellant with reference to the trial court’s finding of the judgment was misconstrued. I do not find any merit in the appeal,” said Judge Limbani.