Despite public consternation over Cashgate convict Tressa Namathanga Senzani’s three-year jail sentence on a charge of theft of K63 million public funds after she agreed with the State to return money she stole and pleaded guilty in court, the former principal secretary for Tourism is not off the hook.
The Nation can report that investigators have now shifted focus to how Senzani, who has surrendered a house valued at about K61 million (US$146 988) in Lilongwe’s Area 47 suburb and paid back K2 million in cash to offset the alleged theft of K63 million government funds, financed the construction of another villa she owns.
Publication of pictures of the villa last year at the heart of the Cashgate led to questions on how senior government officials were seemingly living in opulence while the majority of Malawians were wallowing in poverty.
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala confirmed in an e-mail response recently that the bureau’s probe on Senzani’s mansion is ongoing despite her conviction in the separate theft charges.
She said: “The investigation into how Mrs. Senzani acquired the other house is still going on.”
Ndala also confirmed that the bureau is profiling property of other Cashgate suspects, saying: “The bureau is coming across new information about properties connected to Cashgate now and again.”
She said the bureau is still in custody of the property confiscated from Senzani and the cash she returned, saying the money and property will soon be given to the State.
However, Ndala confirmed that the bureau is still profiling property of some of the suspects for possible forfeiture action. She could not say if Senzani’s other properties are under investigation as well.
“The issue of profiling of property is ongoing as the bureau is coming across new information about properties connected to Cashgate now and again,” added Ndala.
Last year, former deputy inspector general of police Nelson Bophani, who was leading the multi-agency investigation into the Cashgate, confirmed the probe into the house, located at about ‘Six Miles’ off the Blantyre-Lilongwe M1 Road close to Bunda Turn-off.
The Civil Society Grand Coalition, a network of several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on governance issues, also demanded justice on how senior government officials were accumulating such wealth at the expense of growing poverty in the country.