Two people have been nabbed in Blantyre after being allegedly found with slightly over K60 000 (about $150) suspected to have been stolen from gate collections of the IntoSports Giants Peace Cup match between Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers.
The two were identified as civil servant Henry Kintu, 44, from Nkolokosa and vegetable vendor Patrick Lexon, 18, from Chilobwe Township also in Blantyre. According to police, Kintu was assigned by stadium owners [government] to supervise the gate collection while Lexon was engaged as a cashier by a firm outsourced [Unique Cashiering Services] to man the gates.
The two were caught off guard when supporters’ leaders of the two clubs, who included Isaac Jomo Osman and Mabvuto Chibambo (Big Bullets) and Yona Malunga of Nomads, stormed the room where the money was being counted and demanded to search all those involved in the counting of the money.
According to Southern Region Headquarters Police publicist Nicholas Gondwa, Osman and Chibambo, in a scam reminiscent of the Capital Hill free-for-all looting of public money, dubbed Cashgate, the two hid the money in their underwears.
The development mirrored glaring shortcomings in the outsourcing system which was seen as a solution to the rampant fraud that takes place at Kamuzu Stadium, especially during matches involving the two giants and the Flames.
“We arrested the two after they were found with over K60 000 cash which they could not account for as the requirement is that they are supposed to surrender any money in their possession before they set out on such tasks.
“So, they are being held at Soche Police pending investigations because we suspect they might have connived with others,” said Gondwa.
Osman said they became suspicious after it was announced that the gross from the derby was K4.7 million (about $11 500).
Said Osman: “The figure realised did not reflect the huge turnout and we felt something was amiss and that is why we went to the counting room and demanded an instant search.”
Chibambo said the development is a wake-up call on outsourcing.
He said following government approval to allow outsourcing at the stadium, there is now need for the stakeholders to meet and come up with proper mechanisms.
Kamuzu Stadium manager Charles Mhango said some of the people that were engaged are not even qualified in the tasks that they were hired for.
“The aim for outsourcing is to improve gate revenue and it is sad that such things are still happening,” said Mhango who confirmed that Kintu was assigned as a government agent.
On his part, Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda, who was a member of the main organising committee said Bullets Board of Trustees secretary Jim Kalua was better placed to give details on the matter as he was the one handling that aspect.
Kalua said the outsourcing firm was identified in consultation with the organising committee because it charged five percent from the gross, which was fair compared to the other bidders.
Meanwhile, save for paying for government’s 25 percent ground levy, sharing of the proceeds had been suspended until the matter is followed to its logical conclusion.
Thomas Zimba of Unique Cashiering Services confirmed that Lexon is their agent but said he was not aware of his being arrested in connection with the Kamuzu Stadium incident.