Malawi court stops Belgian from grabbing Chilumba projects

The High Court of Malawi has stopped a Belgian, who came as a volunteer, from grabbing a community private school and a lodge at Chilumba in Karonga district after he started collecting money from the two projects without the knowledge of the local board of eight people and diverting it to a different bank account.

The Belgian, Joseph Decraker, further violated the project’s constitution by forming a parallel board of three people, with him as Chairperson. Others are Oswald Kayange and a Mr. Mkumbwa.

But the High Court sitting in Mzuzu on Friday granted an injunction restraining Joseph Decraker’s team, their servants, agents or otherwise from transferring or managing or dealing in any way with the Chilumba Happy School and its projects until a further order of the court.

“If you, the named defendants, neglect to obey this order you will be liable to imprisonment for the purpose of compelling you to obey the said order,” Judge Dingiswayo Madise warned.

According to an affidavit on 28th December 2012 under miscellaneous civil cause number 43 of 2012 by Philip Chikwegza representing eight members of the local board, the idea of the school was hatched in 2006 after the people at Mngoyera village, Traditional Wasambo at Chilumba in Karonga district, noted that children in the village were suffering because there was nearby school.

Chikwegza said the villagers formed a committee and started looking for funds to construct a school.

“We consulted another Belgian, Walter Deproost and then we moulded brick and provided labour for the construction of the school. In October 2007, the school was handed over to the community and we registered with government.

“We then noted that we could not support the staff, maintenance and management, we then requested further funds to build a lodge. We bought land and build the lodge in 20110,” he said.

Chikwegza said to ensure accountability of income a group account for the projects was opened at Malawi Savings Bank and National Bank with three signatories at each account.

“But Joseph Decraker came in November 2012 claiming to have been sent by one of our donors to assist us in painting of the buildings. But he started collecting money from the school and the lodge without depositing in our accounts nor could he account for any transactions.”

He said when the committee enquired from the donor about the defendant’s conduct, the donor told them that Joseph Decraker claimed the committee had put him in charge because it was failing to run the project.

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