Teresa Namathanga Senzani, the first person convicted in a 2013 government scandal involving corruption, looting and the theft of more than $30 million in public funds, who was sentenced to a three-year jail by the Malawi High Court has applied for bail pending her appeal on sentencing.
Senzani made the application Monday in Lilongwe through her lawyer Necton Mhura.
But Judge Ivy Kamanga said that it was disappointing to note that the prisoner’s lawyer had failed to provide copies of the application.
“The defence team need to go back to the drawing board, this is not good. Where are the papers and the rationale for the granting of the bail”? said Kamanga.
She therefore called on the lawyer to file the application again to the court.
Mhura said he will abide by the ruling and will file again the documents to court so that Senzani is granted bail.
“We made the application pending hearing of the appeal case. Our request is in line with the laws and I hope my client will be granted bail as we look forward to the appeal case,” Mhura said.
Mhura said the convict has a right to apply for bail under section 265 of criminal procedure of evidence code.
“Bail has been applied pending an appeal against sentence,” said Mhura.
According to legal experts, an admission to bail after conviction is not a matter of right but is at the discretion of the trial court and that an appeal must not be frivolous.
Senzani, the former principal secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, had pleaded guilty to stealing about $150,000 (about K63 million) in the financial scam, referred to in Malawi as the Cashgate scandal, which prompted donor partners to withdraw their budgetary support to the country.
Others said the three-year sentence given to Senzani is too lenient, and will not deter anyone from committing a similar offense.
“A punishment is a deterrent, otherwise if we have lenient sentences, chances are that we may not be dealing with the problem because people will calculate and conclude that perhaps it is worthwhile taking a risk of being in prison for three years and thereafter enjoy millions of dollars that were stolen from government coffers,” said Ernest Thindwa, a political science lecturer at the Chancellor College of the University of Malawi.
Human rights campaigner Billy Banda faults the system of using the courts to handle these corruption cases.
“Administration of justice should have been done through Truth and Reconciliation, and all those that would be convicted and all those that would voluntarily agree that they had taken a hand in the loot and allowed to pay back the money that would be recovered would be committed to other essential areas to service the plight of citizenry in the country,” Banda said.
Mhura contends the High Court Judge Ivy Kamanga should have handed a suspended sentence to his client because she had pleaded guilty and therefore did not waste time for the court.
He also believes the sentence should have been lenient because the convict is a first offender and that charges placed against her were not ‘severe’.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :