The High Cour t in Lilongwe has dismissed all claims Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) S e c r e t a r y G e n e r a l Greselder Jeffrey and three others made for the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB to pay them about K70 billion in damages.
Jeffrey, Brian Kachingwe, Agnes Kaphikire (widow of late Phillip Kaphikire) and Tadala Chakhaza (son to late Brighton Chakhaza) were acquitted after the ACB failed to take the matter to court on charges of corrupt practices with a public officer, obtaining money by false pretence, corrupt use of official powers, forgery and making a false warrant of money.
The four jointly sued ACB demanding damages for malicious prosecution, fa se imprisonment and, defamation while Kaphikire and Chakhaza additionally sued for loss of dependency.
According to court records, Jeffrey and Ka chingwe claimed K29.9 billion for breach of contract and K20 billion for loss of property.
Making the ruling yesterday, High Court Judge Charles Mkandawire agreed with the ACB that the acquittal did not mean that the four did not commit the crime, but it was a mere technicality.
In an interview after the ruling, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said the court had dismissed all the claims of malicious imprisonment, defamat ion, loss of dependency, loss of property, breach of contract and loss of business.
He said only the claim of loss of property and breach of contract had a sum attached to it.
Had the court found the ACB liable in the claims, Matemba said the court would have assessed the damages on the other claims of false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and defamation.
“All the claims have been dismissed and we have claimed costs for dragging the ACB to court. We are very happy. By challenging this claim, we have saved huge sums of public money,” he said.
Matemba has vowed that the ACB would challenge any attempt to appeal by the claimants.
“These people were acqui t ted purely on technical grounds and the judge agreed. The law is very clear. Just because you have been acquitted doesn’t mean that you did not commit the offence,” he said.
Lawyer Ralph Mhone represented Jeffrey and others. Repeated calls to him seeking reaction on the judgment went unanswered.
The K187 million scam implicated about 55 people following an audit which found that government paid contractors for work that was either shoddy, not completed or not carried out at all.
H o w e v e r , o n l y four people have been convicted out of which two were overturned in the Supreme Court.
When he appeared before the Legal Affairs Committee early last year, Matemba attributed the compensation claim to inefficiencies in the public service and politics.