The State has completed cross examinations of former budget director Paul Mphwiyo in the high profile K24 billion Cashgate case.
Mphwiyo, who is on trial with 17 other accused persons for financial crimes allegedly committed between 2012 and 2013 dubbed Cashgate, was being cross examined for a week by Director of Public Prosecutions Mary Kachale.
Proceedings have been heard in camera with the media and public barred to restrict attendance to the trial owing to fears of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mphwiyo, who was once hailed as a hero after he was shot in face for allegedly exposing the Cashgate scandal before he was arrested and accused of being part of the scheme, will not provide any witnesses in his defense, according to Kachale, but proceed to re-examination.
Speaking in an interview, Kachale on Thursday said she could not comment on the specific details of her cross examination in line with a recent judiciary advisory to lawyers to avoid commentary on matters in court but said she was ready to proceed with the case.
She was also optimistic the trial will proceed in a speedy manner but said she could not provide a specific timeframe on when the case is expected to come to completion.
“We have finished cross examination and we will proceed with re-examination next week on Thursday and then after the re-examination we will start cross-examination of David Kandoje, the second accused person. The court estimates we can finish cross-examination by December,” said Kachale.
Mphwiyo, the high profile suspect in the dock, is accused of participating in the theft and money laundering of K24 billion public funds alongside the then Accountant General David Kandoje, senior treasury colleagues alongside business persons whose companies were allegedly paid billions of taxpayer money for non-existent or fraudulent contracts.
Former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara, his associate Pika Manondo and ex-soldier Macdonald Kumwembe were convicted by Justice Chombo for the attempt on Mphwiyo’s life in August 2016 and sentenced to 13 years for conspiracy to commit murder.
Mphwiyo and the others will now have to provide evidence to defend themselves against the evidence of the State which earlier paraded some 35 witnesses and some 300 exhibits allegedly implicating the suspects.
Forty of the suspects have been convicted in various trials and as Mphwiyo’s image as an anti-corruption crusader vanished, when he was arrested in November 2015. He took plea in the case on November 1 2016 but the case has moved at a snail’s pace since.
An estimated K24 billion of public money was stolen from various government ministries between June and September 2013 leading to arrest of some 36 public officials, owners of 122 companies and freezing of their assets.