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Stolen Hoes: Three Traders Plead Guilty, Remanded

The trio appeared on Tuesday evening before the Soroti Grade one magistrate, Fortune Nyipir after following the sanctioning of their file by the State Attorney. Nyapir charged the trio with the offence of receiving stolen property contrary to section 314 of the Penal Code Act.
Suspects taken to Court in Soroti.
Three traders arrested in connection to the theft of hoes from Soroti City stores are on remand at Nakatunya Prison after pleading guilty to the charges. They are Phoebe Alupo, 47, Alex Osauro, 33 and Simon Opejo, 38.

The trio appeared on Tuesday evening before the Soroti Grade one magistrate, Fortune Nyipir after following the sanctioning of their file by the State Attorney. Nyapir charged the trio with the offence of receiving stolen property contrary to section 314 of the Penal Code Act. The suspects are among six traders arrested over the weekend with 27 boxes containing 648 hoes. 

They were the only ones in Police custody by the time the matter made it to court. The others, including 14 Soroti city council officials are out on police bond. The suspects pleaded guilty to the charges and prayed for leniency on grounds that they did not know the hoes were stolen. 

“I didn’t know the hoes were government property and had been stolen. I am diabetic and I have been looking after my diabetic mother with other health conditions. Besides, I am a single mother of seven children and two grandchildren- all school-going children”, Alupo pleaded.

She told the court that she is servicing a loan, which will accumulate interest if she is imprisoned. Alupo’s co-accused also raised similar issues while praying for leniency from the court. “I am the sole breadwinner of my family and several relatives depend on me for survival. With this lockdown, their survival will be very difficult. If forgiven, I will never repeat such a mistake in my life”, Simon Opejo also pleaded.

The state prosecutor, Michael Emasu, asked the court to give the accused deterrent sentences to send a lesson to others involved in similar acts. “The accused persons engaged in acts that encourage theft of government property when they bought hoes meant for the poor communities, cheaply. This must serve as a lesson to others engaged in similar acts”, he said.

On conviction, the offence attracts up to 14 year’s imprisonment. According to the presiding magistrate, the trio will return to court on September 10, 2021, for sentencing. One hundred out of 1,157 boxes of hoes supplied by the National Agriculture Advisory Services- NAADS to Soroti City through Tianjin Machinery Co. (U) Ltd went missing from the finance department in the city offices. 

President Yoweri Museveni promised to provide the hoes during his 2016 election bid.