Lutepo hospitalised after falling ill in Malawi Police custody

Businessman Oswald Lutepo, the chief suspect in ‘cashgate’, the systematic plunder of government money, has been moved from Police custody to City Centre Clinic in Lilongwe, where he is being treated under police guard for un disclosed ailment.

Lutepo’s lawyer Oswald Mkupira said his client fell ill in police cell Sunday night after his arrest.

He said he was under medication when he was arrested in the central district of Kasungu, some 100 kilometres from Lilongwe.

“In fact he was planning to meet his doctor in (the commercial capital) Blantyre when he was taken ill,” he said.

Lutepo:  Hospitalised

Lutepo: Hospitalised

Mkupira could, however, not disclose the nature of Lutepo’s ailment.

Lutepo was due in court Monday to be formally charged with perjury for confessing that he gave false testimony under oath in court.

Deputy national police spokesperson Mable Nsefula said the law enforcers had not pressed charged yet as they  needed more time to “tie up a few loose ends.”

Lutepo was re-arrested following his allegations that senior government officials were behind the scandal where businessmen connived with civil servants and politicians to swindle government through payments for goods and services not rendered to government.

In a scathing letter to Attorney General, Lutepo alleges that he was threatened into implicating some senior government officials in the former Joyce Banda administration while shielding others.

He said he was warned that should he refuse to play along he would be implicated in the shooting of former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo.

“I was told in no uncertain terms that the government was after the former Minister of Justice, Ralph Kasambara. I was told that I should cooperate to ensure that Ralph Kasambara was implicated in the cashgate cases,” he wrote in the letter addressed to Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale and copied to Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa and Western embassies.

The shooting of Mphwiyo on 13 Sept last year unravelled the scandal. Soon after the shooting former, Banda said the youthful technocratic was targeted because he was championing her anti-corruption crusade.

Following the shooting huge stashes of cash – in Malawi kwacha, US dollars and South African rands – started showing up in unimaginable places like in car trunks, under pillows or in baby dolls.

An audit by the British audit firm Baker Tilly revealed that in all 13 billion Malawi kwacha (about US$30 million) was looted in the scandal. Apparently, the looting started in 2005 and about K92 billion was plunder, according to an audit report deposited to parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

At least 70 suspects, including Lutepo, were arrested and are currently in court answering fraud and corruption charges surrounding cashgate.

Meanwhile, Western donor nations and agencies have suspended some US$150 million in budgetary support in reaction to the scandal.

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