Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale says the State will not heed the alleged confession that businessperson and Cashgate suspect Oswald Lutepo made to the media implicating others in the charges he is facing until he pleads guilty in court.
Further, Kachale said Lutepo should also declare property and provide information leading to the recovery of the said property.
A remorseful-sounding Lutepo gave media interviews on Friday claiming that he had knowledge of which individuals benefitted from Cashgate—the looting of public resources at Capital Hill—and that his companies were simply used as conduits.
Lutepo also alleged that former president Joyce Banda was taking delivery of the huge sums of money he encashed through his companies.
But appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in Lilongwe on Monday to update Parliament on progress of Cashgate cases, Kachale said her office could not act on media reports.
She said: “If Lutepo is really remorseful, he must go before a court of law and plead guilty. Yes, he can go ahead and say who else is involved. But in the meantime, we are just listening just like everybody else.”
Kachale added that the law states that the prosecution cannot use an accomplice in a crime against another person unless the other is not charged and can be used as a witness.
The law also provides that until a person is convicted first then they can provide information on accomplices to help the prosecution.
Said Kachale: “We know people can just implicate others so we can let them go. Right now, we have Lutepo. If he has evidence, he should provide it under oath to Fiscal Police or Anti-Corruption Bureau [ACB], not a radio station.”
But Lutepo’s confession attracted the interest of the committee and some members of Parliament (MPs) went as far as suggesting that he should be placed under some form of witness protection, which Kachale said the Malawi laws did not provide for.
According to the update of Cashgate cases currently in court, Lutepo is charged in a K5.7 billion (about $11.4m) theft and money laundering case alongside former Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara, Pika Manondo and private-practice lawyer Wapona Kita, which is pending hearing in Lilongwe.
In the High Court’s Zomba registry, Lutepo is answering similar charges on an amount totalling K3.1 billion (about $6.2m), which was due to start last week, but has been affected by the ongoing Judiciary support staff strike.
He is also facing conspiracy to commit murder charges alongside Kasambara, Manondo and Dauka Manondo in relation to the shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
Meanwhile, Lutepo has since handed himself to police on tax evasion charges.