Annaliza Mondon and Elizabeth Ngororano before they were sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling Global Fund money By Charles Ariko and Edward Anyoli TWO directors of a local NGO are to serve five years imprisonment each for embezzling sh38m belonging to the Global Fund. Sentencing single mother Annaliza Mondon, 35, and her widowed auntie Elizabeth Ngororano, 65, the Anti-Corruption Court said the women were also guilty of uttering 22 false documents. The convicts were also ordered to pay back sh30m after serving their sentences. Delivering the judgment at the High Court in Kampala yesterday, Justice John Bosco Katutsi, however, acquitted the women on two counts of making false entries in their monthly accountability report. Katutsi said the accused committed the offences between March and August 2005, when they received the funds through their organisation, Valued Health Ltd, which was purportedly sensitising Kampala youth on HIV/AIDS. The offence of embezzlement has been proved with the accuracy of mathematics. The question now is where is this money which the accused claim they paid to Improve Uganda? The answer is simple. It is with the accused and in the language of Section 268 of the Penal Code Act, it was embezzled. They are accordingly found guilty and convicted. Katutsi said in other countries, such as the US, people accused of similar crimes would own up, but in Uganda, fraudsters profess innocence, even after being taken to the highest court. He said it was yet another case where greed had taken an upper hand in the administration of public funds. A culture has developed where the plunder of public funds is idolised. Fraudsters are looked at with admiration and awe. They are seen as achievers and those who try to lead an honest life as failures. He added that a judge is seen as an idiot who punishes a person trying to lead a happy life using public funds. Earlier, principal state attorney Alice Komuhangi Khaukha had asked for a stiff sentence, saying the accused did not show remorse for stealing the money meant for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis treatment. This money had been given to them to assist in sensitising people about HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. These convicts, whom I believe are mothers, became insensitive to this cause and decided to use the money as they wished, she noted. Although the women had been charged with dishonesty, she added, they disrespected the court and continued doing dishonest things during the trial. The lawyers of the accused, Mohammed Mbabazi and Didas Nkurunziza, had asked the judge to be lenient, saying Mondon was a single mother who suffered a miscarriage during the trial, while Ngororano was a widow of advanced age. Responding to the appeal, Katutsi asserted: I have listened to both sides. I find that a sentence of five years is on the side of leniency. The sentences will run concurrently. Immediately after the ruling, the Police whisked the weeping convicts to the cells. Relatives and friends sobbed along as the women were herded to a bus en-route to Luzira Prison. This brought to four the number of suspects convicted of stealing the Global Fund money. Teddy Seezi Cheeye, the director of economic monitoring in ISO, was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to 28 years in Luzira for embezzling sh110m. Another convict, Ssalongo Kavuma, a former UTV employee, is serving five years for stealing sh41m.