Fiscal Police in Blantyre have arrested two finance managers at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre for allegedly attempting to bribe a hired auditor.
The two are hospital chief accountant Agness Chirwa and accountant Joice Zamalala. They were arrested on Sunday and are currently in custody at Blantyre Police Station.
The suspects are alleged to have wanted to bribe a team of auditors from Graham and Carr Audit, a private firm engaged by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to audit government hospitals, according to police.
QECH chief administrator Themba Mhango on Tuesday said he could not competently comment on the matter because the institution was yet to get an official report.
Said Mhango: “As an institution, we have not been told anything either by the Accountant General or the Ministry of Health, but what I can say is that the people in question have not reported for work since Monday.”
But Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali confirmed in a separate interview that Chirwa and Zamalala were in police custody on suspicions of bribery.
“I can confirm that the two have indeed been arrested by fiscal police. But the ministry and the hospital [QECH] have not been officially presented with the issues surrounding their arrests,” said Chimbali.
Blantyre Police Station spokesperson Elizabeth Divala confirmed the arrests in an interview, saying the suspects have since been charged with official corruption contrary to Section 90 (b) of the Penal Code.
The section in question, falling under chapter 10 of the Penal Code (Corruption and the abuse of office), stipulates that any person who corruptly gives, confers or procures, or promises or offers to give or confer, or to procure or attempt to procure, to, upon, or for any person employed in the public service, or to, upon, or for any other person, any property or benefit of any kind on account of any such act or omission on the part of the person so employed, shall be guilty of misdemeanor and shall be liable to imprisonment for three years.
Explained Divala: “A team of auditors from Graham and Carr went to the hospital for the exercise and their team leader [Mayamiko Botomani] was approached by the two suspects who induced him with a bribe of K100 000 ($200).”
Divala said following his professional ethics, Botomani alerted his boss (Conwell Banda) before receiving the money and handing it over to authorities for action.