The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to update Malawians on the progress of theft and money laundering cases against businessperson and former People’s Party (PP) senior member Osward Lutepo.
Lutepo was arrested last November on suspicion that his companies were involved in theft of public resources and money laundering about K1.2 billion (US$285 714) from government.
But last month he testified against 27-year-old Sithole who is accused of being found in possession of large amounts of money , including K112 million (US$266 667) and $31 800.
In its letter dated April 18 2014 addressed to DPP Bruno Kalemba copied to the Minister of Justice, the commission asked for explanation on why Lutepo was appearing as a witness against another ‘Cashgate’ suspect.
Since the cases started in February, the DPP, alongside the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), have started prosecution cases involving less amounts, but the ‘big fish’ such as Lutepo, chief tourism officer Leonard Karonga, former principal secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Joster Njanji and director in the Ministry of Tourism Theresa Namathanga Senzani have not come to court to start prosecution.
Further wrote the MHRC: “In the absence of explanations from the prosecuting authorities and sharing of this pertinent information with people in Malawi, this development is raising challenges for the critical human rights standards relating to the right to access justice and the right to equality before the law.”
But Kalemba has said Lutepo was not a ‘State witness’ and he was only called on to testify on the element that he sought a court order to release the Malawi currency found in Sithole’s custody.
At the weekend, Kalemba said the State has since filed charges against Lutepo in the High Court on the K2.6 billion (US$6 190 476) case.
A status update of the ‘Cashgate’ cases made available to The Nation indicates that the prosecution has finished making its case against six individuals most of whom are businesspersons answering charges of theft and money laundering, out of 20 cases filed before court from a possible 75.