The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says it wants to move court to order the disposal of six Cashgate buses valued at K520 million ($ 865,654.4) as they are deteriorating for staying idle at National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe.
This will be the second application by the State to the courts to have the buses, bought by the then Ministry of Tourism in 2013, disposed.
Procurement of the buses was facilitated by the ministry’s assistant tourism officer Leonard Kalonga who has since been convicted on his own plea of guilty to money laundering and theft of public funds charges.
Updating the media on Cashgate investigations and prosecutions during a news conference in Blantyre on Wednesday, ACB deputy director general Reyneck Matemba said since the first application made in 2013 by Bruno Kalemba, then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), to dispose of the buses and that government keeps the money was objected by defence lawyer and the court, nothing has moved on the buses.
He said an application to take pictures of the vehicles so that they are disposed of was also made during that time.
Said Matemba: “However, when you look at the confession statement made by Kalonga, the buses really are not issues. In fact, if we are to apply to the court now to dispose them, the court would agree with us. I do not think we would be able to get any objections from the defence because, in any event, the one who purchased these buses confessed.”
He said the bureau does not know whether it will be able to recover the same amount spent in their procurement and that government will decide on what to do with the buses. He mentioned options such as giving them to different ministries and public universities or disposing them of entirely.
The six 65-seater Scania Marcopolo Torino semi-luxury buses were supplied by Automotive Products Limited (APL), the local franchise dealer for Scania.
In April last year, the High Court in Lilongwe rejected an application by the State to have the controversial buses disposed of.
But the defence legal team expressed shock with the State’s application, arguing that by seeking disposal of the buses, government was making a big mistake as it is already in custody of several other property impounded from Cashgate suspects which is deteriorating at the National Police Headquarters.
In August this year, Kalonga pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering and the court convicted him on his own plea.
The buses were impounded in November 2013 before they were delivered to an unnamed client following Kalonga’s arrest.