Cashgate convict Angela Katengeza on Tuesday said death was better than the five-year custodial sentence that Judge Fiona Mwale gave her at the High Court in Lilongwe for money laundering.
Katengeza, who was found guilty in March 2016, lost her composure after the sentencing yesterday.
In an emotional breakdown and amid yells by her relatives that came to witness the sentencing—she shouted: “Just kill me, I don’t want to be alive, just finish me!”
Katengeza was on trial for using her company’s bank account to help launder K105 million ($146 444) contrary to Section 13 of the Money Laundering, Proceeds of Serious Crime and Terrorist Financing Act. The maximum sentence for the offence is 15 years.
Katengeza was initially charged alongside former tourism officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Leonard Kalonga, who was later dropped from the case after he pleaded guilty to all Cashgate-related charges.
In her ruling, Mwale said the court did not give Katengeza the maximum sentence because she was not the mastermind of the crime, although she still ended on the wrong side of the law.
“The convict was not a mastermind of the crime, but the amount of money that was laundered due to her involvement is a lot. I, therefore, sentence you to serve five years in prison with hard labour,” Mwale said.
The judge noted that the laundered K105 million could have been allocated to other sectors to serve the larger interest of all Malawians.
Speaking outside the court after the sentencing yesterday, Katengeza said she was used by other people in government to accomplish their interests.
“It is not alright with me, I have done what I have done. I did not work in government. I am just a sacrificial lamb of the State which does not know where the money went. What do I own now? I don’t deserve this life anymore. I [want] to go and die,” said the emotional Katengeza.
Responding to the ruling, defence lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa said he will let his client digest the news before discussing the possibility of an appeal.
“I will take time to go through the ruling, assess and determine my position and then I will meet my client and her instructions will define the way forward,” he said.
State prosecutor Imran Saidi said the sentence should serve as a lesson to people involved in related cases to quickly admit wrong doing to avoid wasting time.
“The court, with its discretion, has deemed it fit to give the five-year sentence and it reflects that justice prevails in our courts and this should send a signal to other offenders to come down, plead guilty and surrender whatever they have looted from government coffers,” said Saidi.
During hearing last year, Katengeza told the court that Kalonga brought three cheques which she deposited into her FDH Bank account then withdrew and gave the money to him as he had advised.
She also told the court that she received K3 million from Kalonga and had agreed to get a 10 percent commission after the third cheque was deposited, but this did not happen. n