Judge Redson Kapindu has been hailed for delivering justice to Malawian taxpayer for handing a hefty jail sentence to Oswald Lutepo, a major figure in the “Cashgate” scandal, which led to several donor countries cutting their contributions to one of the poorest nation in the world.
In an editorial in one of the titles of Malawi’s biggest media empire, Times Group, published on Saturday, the Malawi News, said “justice flowed like water.”
The editorial comment said Friday, the day Lutepo was sentences, “ Malawian tax payer got his justice and Justice Kapindu did not disappoint in ensuring that it happens.”
The paper pointed out that Lutepo’s case was of “extra callousness” to the people of Malawi and that no amount of pontification by cashgate prisoner will change the fact that “we are glad the judge did not buy his antics but recognised the gravity of the offence” and handed a balanced sentence.
For the “gibberish “ that Lutepo continued uttering blaming certain individuals for using him as a conduit, Malawi News editorial said he knows where he could have reported it and authorities could have acted on that it, if it merited that.
Balanced sentence as Lutepo’s lawyer asked for one year jail, the prosecutors pleaded for 10 years and the judge handed 11 years.
In his sentencing, Judge Kapindu said Section 323 of the Penal Code stipulates that money laundering attracts a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment while conspiracy to defraud government attracts a jail term of three years, but he gave Lutepo eight years on the first count because of, among others, his cooperation with the court and the restitution of his Woget Industries valued at K370 million.
Lutepo was convicted on his own plea of guilty on charges of conspiracy to defraud government and money laundering of K4.7 billion between April and September 2013.
Many people have commented on the sentencing saying it is not as harsh as Lutepo would want the nation to believe.
Dickson Mutale says 11 years is rather not enough for “this kind of being! He deserves a lot more than this.” While Ken Phiri says he is disappointed with the leniency in the sentencing.
On his part, Rodrick Kapasule argues that in practical sense, Lutepo will serve only five years
While Joseph Adams wonders how K4.8 billion would get one only 11 years in prison when someone stealing a goat gets 25 years.
He says: “Money talks. Lutepo don’t worry, you are just on holiday.”
Reaction on Facebook:
Law scholar Sunduzwayo Madise: Pretty stiff sentence! Starting point for money laundering after a guilty plea was seven. This is because courts normally reduce by a third in a guilty plea. But the court definitely thought there were enough aggravating factors to enhance it to eight. For conspiracy to defraud, that is the maximum sentence, showing the court thought Oswald Lutepo did not deserve any leniency. To order that the sentences run consecutively illustrates that the court felt these were grave offences and a message needed to be sent to Lutepo as well as others out there.
Dominic Mang’anda: It is a fair judgment, if only he was just a conduit. However, looking at the misery Cashgate has brought to Malawians, the judgment is unfair. K4.2 billion deserves a stiffer punishment, if we are to root corruption out of public service.
Hastings Ndalama: Everyone is excited as if this changes and improves anything. Open your eyes and see what is going on! People are still dying in hospitals. The kwacha continues to get weaker by the day, and you celebrate here as if the arresting of this thief changes anything. The real thieves are seated in their comfortable chairs while you clap hands for the one guy who was used as a scapegoat.
Shadrick Kachule: Here was a millionaire who could have utilised his potential to grow his revenue rather than use shortcuts!Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :