Operations at the Balaka District Council have been scaled down after High Court sheriffs confiscated five computers and a printer from the registry and accounts offices for a K5 million (about $6 817) debt the council owes a businessperson.
On Tuesday, sheriffs, acting on instructions from a Mr Kumwenda of Khumzy Construction Company pounced on the council offices and took away computers that contain important information such as data for Local Development Fund (LDF), according to a source.
The two sheriffs, who were in uncompromising mood and in the company of two armed police officers, met assistant director of finance Hendrix Mponya, before they forced open some accounts offices that were locked and confiscated computers.
One council official, who opted for anonymity, said the accounts office has been hugely affected.
“Imagine, there is only one computer for all the staff in the office. The computers also contain names of beneficiaries of Public Works Programme (PWP), among other, important documents,” said the source.
The contractor is claiming K1.5 million (about $2 045) for being evicted from the council rest house he was lodging in without paying, which he says was detention and made him lose business. This happened some seven years ago.
He is also claiming K3.5 million (about $4 772) for loss of construction business he suffered when he was detained.
District Commissioner for Balaka, Rodrick Mateauma, who played down the issue crippling operations at the council, said they have obtained an injunction to stop the courts from keeping the computers.
Said Mateauma: “We have obtained a stay order from the High Court through our lawyers Salim and Associates, and we expect the sheriffs to return our property tomorrow.”
He further said Kumwenda was paid K1.5 million after the court ordered a freeze of the council’s bank accounts but the council is challenging the K3.5 million claim for lack of evidence of contract offer letters.
The case was supposed to appear in court on February 18 where the council was to appeal against Kumwenda’s K3.5 million claim when the sheriffs came to confiscate property. n