The High Court in Lilongwe is this week expected to start hearing a Cashgate case relating to six buses valued at K520 million bought through the then Ministry of Tourism, but no one has claimed ownership of.
The Ministry of Tourism disowned the 65-seater Scania Marcopolo Torino semi-luxury buses supplied by Automotive Products Limited (APL), the local franchise dealer for Scania. Their procurement was facilitated by the ministry’s chief tourism officer Leonard Karonga
In an interview on Monday, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale confirmed the case is now ready for hearing this week.
He said the State will be seeking direction from the court on how the buses will be disposed of.
In April last year, the High Court in Lilongwe rejected an application by the State to have the controversial buses disposed of.
Putting up its case, the State argued that the buses were losing value by lying idle and that any continued stay would result in government losing out.
During an earlier hearing on the matter last year, the defence legal team, led by private practice lawyer Joseph Kamkwasi 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 National Police Headquarters.
He also said there is no legal justification for government to dispose of the buses before commencement of trials.
Karonga was first arrested on October 17 2013 by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly conniving with different people to defraud government. He was charged with money laundering and theft by public servant. n