The Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court has granted bail to a vice-consul at the Malawi Consulate in South Africa, Ganizani Kuchombo, following his arrest on allegations that he facilitated payment of K920 million (US$2 044 444 million) to Thuso Group Supplies for goods which were not supplied to the Malawi Defence Force (MDF).
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) last week arrested Kuchombo on charges of misuse of office contrary to Section 25b (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act in relation to the K920 million and laundering K16 million (US$35 556) from Thuso Group deposited into his personal account.
In his ruling, senior resident magistrate Anthony Kapaswiche ordered Kuchombo to pay a cash bond of K500 000 and produce two sureties of K1 million non-cash apart from reporting to the ACB offices every month and surrendering his travel documents to the graft-busting agency.
But Kuchombo’s lawyer, Shadreck Mhango, told the court that being a civil servant based in South Africa, it would be logistically difficult for his client to travel to Malawi every month. He suggested that arrangements be made for Kuchombo to report for bail in South Africa or the period for bail should be wider than one month.
But the magistrate maintained that Kuchombo should surrender his travel documents to ACB and when seeking permission to travel abroad, he should be given the travel documents and surrender the said documents upon arrival in South Africa at a place to be identified by the ACB.
The ACB claims that in 2013, Kuchombo acquired K16 million from Thuso Group on two cheques of K9 million and K7 million which he deposited into his Standard Bank personal account in Lilongwe knowing or having reason to believe the money was proceeds of crime.
Kuchombo is also alleged to have used his position as vice-consul to negotiate for payment of K920 million to Thuso Group for goods not supplied to MDF