Former Top Service boss appeals seven-year sentence

A Former Managing Director of Top Service Ltd has appealed the seven-year sentence he was handed by the Gasabo Intermediate Court in Kigali in 2017.

Ladislas Mwitende was convicted of forgery and use of forged documents to accumulate gains.

Mwitende and his three lawyers lodged the appeal on Thursday before a bench of three judges presided by Aime Muyoboke Kalimunda.

Mwitende challenged the fact that he was convicted as an individual instead of the company he was representing.

Between 2013 and 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) hired Top Service Ltd to supply fertilisers to farmers in Northern and Western provinces.

Top Service was supposed to have farmers sign for the amount of fertilisers they took which the ministry would pay for.

Mwitende was found guilty of forging signatures and manipulating the amount of fertilisers he was supplying so that Top Service could be paid more than it supplied.

It was found that he fraudulently earned over Rwf322 million which the court ordered him to pay back to MINAGRI, plus an 8 per cent interest to bring the total to Rw430,727,712.

Mwitende did not deny the manipulation of figures but argued that it was supposed to be company’s fault, not Mwitende as an individual.

“We don’t deny that there is no crime but the manner in which it was committed is not for Mwitende to face the penalty alone,” his lawyers told the court.

According to his lawyers, Mwitende was supposed to be sentenced to between 6 months and 2 years jail term for submitting a false document with false information and not seven years.

“The money that MINAGRI lost didn’t go into Mwitende’s pockets but into Top Service’s,” the lawyers told the bench. They added that the case wasn’t supposed to be heard in a primary court but in a commercial court because it carries a lighter sentence.

The case will be heard again on May 2, 2019.