Some disgruntled Blantyre City Council (BCC) employees have tipped the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe the council’s Director of Administration (DAS), Alfred Chanza, and the security officers over the manner in which they have been handling theft cases of millions of property at the institution.
Investigations by Nyasa Times have revealed that over the last few years BCC, particularly at its head office- Civic Centre- has dubiously lost a number of assets worth millions of kwacha to unknown “criminals” and in very mysterious circumstances without any redress.
The council has about 100 security guards who, among others, are employed to provide security to BCC property but instead the council sub contracted private company to do the job.
At Civic Centre, the private security company (name withheld) provides 24 guards on night shift alone and over 12 guards during day time and according to the agreement in case of any theft of property the security company is supposed to replace the item.
But since the company was sub contracted, neither replacement of the stolen items had been made nor the company taken to task over the matter raising suspicions of some collaborated dirty work happening between certain senior officers and the contracted guards.
For instance, last year alone over 10 computers, most of them carrying high profile and top secret information went missing at Civic Centre offices alone but no replacements have been made by the security company neither has it been taken to task.
“The stealing is well calculated because all of them are done without offices or buildings being broken into by the said robbers. This raises suspicions that the entry into such offices and buildings is done through the doors and because of that we advised the council to change locks of the doors and erect burglar bars to the buildings so that it is easier to trace,” said a police investigator from Limbe Police Station who has been involved in handling the theft cases.
And a source within the Civic Centre premises told Nyasa Times: “This is surprising because when the council was using its own guards to provide security to the premises the magnitude of theft was not this severe.”
In one of the recent thefts, Nyasa Times understands that two computers that stocked confidential members of staff information went missing mysteriously at the Human Resources department during the long Easter weekend.
According to our source, the missing of the computer is linked to the Director of Administration Alfred Chanza who is trying to hide information on how he has been employing, relocating and terminating the services of members of staff, particularly during the last two years.
Our investigations have revealed that in the two computers-missing-mission the DAS was the schemer but he used his cousin, Jeremy Galagadi, to execute the task.
Chanza employed Galagadi last year as a temporary administrator, a post that does not exist at BCC, before being relocated to the Human Resources department to understudy the then acting Human Resources Manager, Grant Jumani.
Six months later Chanza promoted Galagadi to head the department and systematically “demoted” Jumani by transferring him to the lifeless traffic warden department.
Information Nyasa Times has gathered reveal that a day before Easter weekend, Galagadi requested the department’s secretary, a Mrs. Galeta, to give him space because he had some urgent and confidential work which he needed to do by himself.
“The secretary left the office and after he had finished his work, he took the keys home for the whole weekend. And on Tuesday morning, he gave them to a messenger who upon opening the office found that the two computers were missing. He reported to the secretary who in turn alerted her boss before council security officers and Limbe Police were called in,” said our source.
However, to the astonishment of the entire council population, Galagadi, the main suspect, was just recorded a statement and left scot free and yet in the immediate past other employees received different treatments like spending nights in police cells, told to pay for the stolen items and even suspended without pay for being mere suspects.
One such case Nyasa Times has uncovered is that of a senior employee Lothiar Ngulube, who is coordinator of HIV and AIDS.
Ngulube is a victim of high level nepotism at the council, several BCC employees informed Nyasa Times.
Although he was employed through the Local Government Service Commission, his originating from the Northern Region does not please some members of the management team, who feel his senior and luxurious post ought to be held by someone from a Lhomwe or Sena district.
As such, when Ngulube’s office was robbed, DAS rushed to call officers from Limbe Police Station who detained him for being the main suspect.
“He was arrested on 25th July 2011 after a laptop, cable, printer and a camera went missing from his office. His home in Chilomoni was searched by the police and council officers but although nothing was found he was taken back to the police cell where he spent two nights before being released on bail, “disclosed the source, information that was also corroborated by police investigator.
Barely a day after being released on bail, DAS wrote Ngulube a suspension letter without pay which was hand delivered at his house on 28th July 2011 at 5.00 am by a Human Resources clerk, Patson Monjeza, raising more suspicions.
Sources from BCC say Ngulube is a victim of nepotism as he is the only senior officer from Northern Region working under the Health Department that has a workforce of more than 500 people.
The source said the sitting of the disciplinary committee for Ngulube’s issue failed to proceed after Chanza flouted procedures by cutting corners which some members of the disciplinary committee shot down.
“Actually, the issue is that DAS has managed to convince the Chief Executive Officer Mr. Ted Nandolo to dismiss Ngulube and pay him any damages as long as he is out of the council and his post filled by someone,” said the source.
The source also said the Human Resources Manager, Alfred Nyengo, openly told some employees that the council wants to do away with Ngulube that was why they had hired Naphambo and Company law firm to prosecute him instead of police.
Nyasa Times has also gathered that DAS wants Ngulube, who was one of the applicants for the post of Director of Health and Social Services that has since been filled by Chanza’s home mate, a Mr. Kanjunju, out of the council so that his position is filled by his sister -in-law, Rosemary Ngaiyaye.
Chanza is keeping Ngaiyaye (who is a sister to his wife) in his house and is the one currently acting as coordinator of HIV and AIDS. The young girl only holds an MSCE and yet the post requires someone with a relevant degree.
Ngulube, who comes from Mzimba district has a Bachelors degree and is about to finish his masters degree.
As if that is not enough, Ngulube has also been fighting for his true grades after DAS deliberately gave him an S2 grade instead of his genuine S1 grade. When queried DAS just wrote him a promotion letter and has been fighting for his arrears and true grade until he was sent on suspension.
When called for his comment on Sunday, Ngulube confirmed the development but refused to divulge more details saying he had been advised by his lawyer (Shephar Mumba) not to comment anything on the matter.
An investigation officer at the ACB confided in Nyasa Times, the office had indeed received tips on Chanza on his various dealings at the council which apart from the schemed thefts also include how he offered a MK65 million contract to the security company.
Another source blamed the schemed thefts on the council’s security officers for their lack of professionalism in executing their duties despite having all the required resources.
A checklist Nyasa Times sourced from Limbe Police Station with some of BCC property stolen after Ngulube’s case at Civic Centre include:
(a) Two computer sets valued at over K400,000.00 at Health Department room 26. The office occupant, a Mr. C. Tepeka, was asked to go and give statement on his own at Limbe Police on 15 August 2011 but nothing happened to him yet Ngulube was accompanied by the DAS himself and security personnel of the council.
(b) A computer and extension valued at K140, 000 at Town Planning, Estates Registry Office
(c) A computer valued at K195 000 and kettle at Engineering Department, Metrological Office
(d) A computer valued at K185 000 in Senior Estates Officer’s office, Town Planning
(e) Stationery, kettles, and undisclosed amount of cash was stolen on 11th January 2012 at Engineering Depart. The office users were asked to pay back.
(f) On 20th February 2012 property worth K 350,000 was stolen at the Printing Depart and nothing happened to the head of department a Mr. Tandaude.
Several other theft cases which occurred in toilets, library room, licensing office and the clinic at Health Department were also reported.