The High Court in Lilongwe will on October 7 and 8 this year restart a Cashgate case involving a civil servant and three contractors after the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) amended charges and added new suspects to the case.
The DPP made an application in court on Wednesday to amend the charges and add other accused persons to the case.
This will be the second case the DPP has restarted following fresh investigations and could further delay prosecution of Cashgate cases. To date, less than 20 out of 70 Cashgate cases are active in the courts.
Since arrests began in 2013—sparked by the attempted murder of then budget director Paul Mphwiyo—the prosecution has secured eight convictions against two former civil servants and six businesspersons.
In the K628 million case, the four accused persons jointly charged on a count of money laundering, conspiracy to commit a felony and lending a certificate for personation are Nkhunzo Chirwa, Muzipasi Moyo, Steve Mwenitete and Denis Mhango.
Together, the four are alleged to have stolen and laundered government funds amounting to K628 million between January and September 2013.
The case in which initially Moyo was charged with theft and facilitating money laundering of K313 million now has Bandula, Mwenitete and Mhango.
Bandula and Mwenitete are already facing charges of theft and money laundering in a separate case which is before another judge, Esme Chombo.
The four accused persons will have to take plea again and all witnesses will be recalled in the interest of justice, hired private prosecutor Enoch Chibwana told the court.
The case has also changed judges to Ivy Kamanga as, initially, Blantyre-based Dorothy NyaKaunda-Kamanga was handling the case and made an order in April this year that the prosecution should commence proceedings before July 31 or the matter would be discharged.
Lawyers for the accused persons led by Gilbert Khonyongwa had no reservations to restarting the case, but asked the court to bear in the mind the order which NyaKaunda-Kamanga made.
“It would appear that the orders that were made have just been left hanging and here we are. I do not have a problem with that, except that I would have loved if we were done with the specific orders and maybe that way we would deal away with confusion that appears on the conduct of this case,” he said.
But DPP Mary Kachale said: “The State is committing itself that it will not burden you with any further amendments. Again, subject to Section 183 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code, once the court sets the date, the State will comply.”
She added that the State was of the view that there was no prejudice to the accused persons.
Judge Kamanga said: “The matter is adjourned to allow the defendants to go through contents of the charges against them before plea taking.”
Following the amendment of the charges, Chirwa is answering charges of theft by a public servant and money laundering over K131.2 million which allegedly went to his company, Zozama Civil Engineering while Moyo, proprietor of Zuya Construction, is answering charges of money laundering K313 million, which was paid to his company when it allegedly had not carried out any works for government.
Mwenitete is being charged with money laundering K61.2 million through his company, Sky Civil Engineering, while Mhango is facing charges of money laundering K123.8 million through his company Sky Clive Engineering.
Under what came to be known as Cashgate, British forensic auditors, Baker Tilly, established that K24 billion was not accounted for between April and September 2013.
On the other hand, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in its analysis of Malawi Government accounts between 2009 and December 2014, found that K577 billion was not accounted for during the period.