The High Court in Lilongwe yesterday adjourned hearing of a 2010 Cashgate case involving 14 civil servants after the third accused, Chikondi Chimutu, asked the court to give the State more time to secure a document relevant to his cross-examination.
In the case, Cornelius Kaphamtengo and 13 others are being accused of stealing and sharing among themselves K201 million ($358 929) in 2011 from the then Ministry of Elderly and Disability Affairs through the Accountant General’s Office.
Last Thursday, presiding judge Charles Mkandawire gave the State until yesterday to come with the document relevant to Chimutu’s cross-examination, but the State failed to bring the document citing a short time-frame.
Failure by the State to bring the said document from the then Ministry of Elderly and Disability Affairs prompted Chimutu, whose charges of theft involves K18.3 million of the K201 million, to request for an extension of time.
However, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) prosecutor Reyneck Matemba told the court that he received communication from the ministry that the requested document could not be traced within the advised three days.
“We served the ministry to look and produce the documents. I received a call from an official from the ministry that they have tried to find the document but they could not find it because three days was not enough and they will formerly communicate to the court and state about the matter,” said Matemba who is also ACB deputy director general.
Mkandawire has since adjourned the case to June 2, but with an order to both set of lawyers to submit fresh applications seeking the documents and provide the same within 14 days.
He also advised that the fresh applications for the document be copied to the Accountant General’s Ooffice as it is likely to have the document in case the one at the involved ministry has vanished.
The charges against the 14 suspects range from theft, money laundering, abuse of office and conspiracy to committing a felony.
The alleged looting of public funds took place between November 1 2010 and June 30 2011 and centred around Ministry of Elderly and Disability Affairs through the Accountant General’s office.