Special Cashgate prosecutor KamudoniNyasulu says the State expects to complete laying its case against former Army Commander General Henry Odillo and three others today with a parade of final witnesses.
In the case that started over four years ago, Odillo, 53, former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) deputy commander Clement Kafuwa, 63, former Accountant General David Kandoje and Ganizani Kuchombo, 39, are accused of fraudulently paying arms supplier Thuso Group about K2 billion for a non-existent contract.
The prosecution team led by Nyasulu yesterday started parading two of its last witnesses in Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) chief investigations officer Florence Phiri and the bureau’s principal investigations officer Jack Banda.
The prosecution contends that on Odillo’s watch, MDF allegedly paid the supplier, Thuso Group, the stated amount in three instalments between March and August 2013.
In an interview after the court adjourned, Nyasulu said the State will likely complete laying its case today once the last witness has finished providing testimony.
He said: “After this witness, we are done with the prosecution case.”
To date, the State has paraded 26 witnesses in the case.
Presiding High Court Judge RedsonKapindu is expected to rule whether the accused persons have a case to answer after the State concludes its case and the accused persons, who pleaded not guilty, enter their defence.
Yesterday, the Zomba-based judge dismissed an application by the defence to be given more time to study some of the evidence before raising possible objections to their use.
Nyasulu had earlier objected to the application, saying the defence had over four years to study the documents submitted by the State.
Briefing reporters outside the court, he said: “They [the defence] said they were not objecting, but they wanted time to look at the documents and make an objection. Clearly, they didn’t have an objection and the judge dismissed it.”
During an earlier hearing, one of the State witnesses, former Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa conceded in court that there was no evidence from the Baker Tilly forensic audit report implicating Odillo in a conspiracy to defraud the State.
In cross-examination by the lead defence lawyer at the time Titus Mvalo, now Minister of Justice, the witness was asked whether Odillo and his co-accused persons conspired to defraud the State.
But the State argues that Odillo and other senior MDF officers had the responsibility to ensure that all documentation was sufficient and the equipment delivered before approving the contract and payment.
In his testimony, Kamphasa said Odillo, as a controlling officer, had a responsibility to ensure a contract of such magnitude had proper documentation and cited how as a controlling officer himself was ensuring that this was the case on such contracts.
Since commencement of Cashgate cases following revelations of abuse of public resources at Capital Hill in September 2013, 60 percent of cases have been completed.
Documents from various investigating agencies show that several cases have stalled without any hearings while others have stalled in court.
Information sourced by The Nation shows that by November 2015, there were 124 overall Cashgate cases before Nyasulu, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the ACB as the main prosecuting agencies.
The cases followed the release of the Baker Tilly report on Cashgate which revealed plunder of an estimated K24 billion of taxpayer money over a randomly selected six-month between June and September 2013.
In all, 94 suspects entered trial and 40 have been convicted. On the other hand, trials for 19 suspects are nearing the close the prosecution, representing a near completion rate of 64 percent.
The ACB and Nyasulu secured 22 of the 40 convictions and no acquittal.
The other high-profile Cashgate case in progress involves former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others who are accused of a role in the alleged fraud of K2.4 billion.
Mphwiyo’s shooting outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013 is widely seen as the incident that exposed Cashgate.