Malawi’s deputy police chief Bophani fails to answer cash-gate questions

Malawi’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Nelson Bophani, who is also chairing the Investigation Committee on the Cash-gate, on Wednesday angered the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament after he failed to ‘clearly’ answer questions on the looting at Capital Hill.

Bophani was summoned to give PAC an update on investigations into the matter.

Among several areas the committee wanted to know if the police are linking Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo to the cashgate and whether they interviewed him on the matter when they met him in South Africa.

“What is the link between Mphwiyo’s shooting and the cashgate scandal at Capital Hill?” quizzed one of  PAC members Henry Mussa.

Bophani irks PAC on cash-gate probe

In his response, Bophani said: “This is a matter which will be tackled in court. But Mphwiyo is a primary witness in the shooting crime. Conclusively, Mphwiyo can be anything at any time in the course of this case, but in our records at the moment he is a witness.”

Asked whether  the police interviewed Mphwiyo on the looting scam, Bophani said the police’s focus was on Mphwiyo as a witness of a crime and that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) interviewed him on other matters.

Bophani’s response did not go down well with the Members of Parliament (MPs) with one of the members of the committee Clement Chiwaya telling the deputy police chief that he should not be playing tricks with the committee.

“Please, address the questions. You should know that the public is counting on you to tell us the truth,” said a visibly angry Chiwaya.

The PAC members also quizzed Baphani why it had to take the whole deputy police Inspector General to accompany Mphwiyo on his way from South Africa, where he underwent surgery after his shooting on September 13 this year at the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe, up until he arrived at Kamuzu International Airport.

Bophani explained that he did not go to South Africa to bring Mphwiyo back home but that they were on the same plane and just met at the airport.

“A DIG [Deputy Inspector General] cannot escort a person whether criminal or not,” he said.

This is contrary to what the media reported on Mphwiyo’s arrival as he was seen accompanied by senior police officers including Bophani himself.

The committee members also asked Bophani to queries about businessperson Oswald Lutepo’s whereabouts before he turned himself in.

“For a while, I really believed that Lutepo was outside the country, but we are further investigating the matter. Once we conclude our investigations, we will share everything with the public,” said Bophani, to further dissatisfaction of the PAC members.

The committee expressed concerns on why it is taking long for police to find out whether Lutepo was within the country before he handed himself over, arguing police could easily get details of Lutepo’s movements from the Immigration Department.

“We are wondering why it is taking time to investigate the matter when it is only a matter of verifying with passports since a warrant of arrest was already issued. Do you mean the Immigration Department failed us or he is somebody who can just move in and out anyhow?” asked another member, Nicholas Dausi.

The members also asked on the other members of the police investigation committee, whether police know the motive behind Mphwiyo’s shooting and the alleged VIP treatment for Lutepo when he was in custody. It was however clear again that although Bophani answered some of these questions he left the committee unsatisfied.

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