Not guilty! Katengeza, Kalonga plead: Mbwana disown K106m Cashgate cheques

Former deputy director in the Ministry of Tourism, Leonard Kalonga and businessperson Angela Katengeza, who owns Faith Construction on Wednesday entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to charges related to the Cashgate corruption scandal in the civil service.

Kalonga denied charges of theft and money laundering involving K105.9 million which he allegedly stole from the ministry between July and October last year.

Katengeza also rejected the offence of money laundering for which she is charged alongside Kalonga who is also answering other charges whose cases are yet to come before court such as facilitation of the purchase of six buses which the ministry disowned.

Their case has attracted national interest and is given due media attention.

Kalonga at the court

Kalonga at the court

On Thursday, Malawi two daily newspapers – The Nation and Daily Times –  led their front pages with their court case which this report extracts from  the press coverage.

The prosecution led by private practice lawyer Kamudoni Nyasulu hired by the State to handle cashgate case, started parading witnesses to prove that Kalonga stole K105 million from government coffers.

The first witness who was director of finance and administration in the Ministry of Tourism, Kenson Mbwana, disowned two cheques to K36.5 million (US$88 592) and another K69.4 million (US$168 204) payable to Faith Construction and cashed through FDH Bank City Centre Branch.

Mbwana came under fire from Kalonga’s lawyer Manuel Theu during cross-examination because he could not explain the origins of the two cheques tendered as evidence.

“I don’t know the origins of these cheques. I did not authorize payment to Faith Construction,” M’bwana said.

“According to the Vote number (360), they belong to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture but they were not issued from the Ministry,” M’bwana said.

He also said that even if they were to be issued, the committee did not have powers to authorize paymentfor cheques in excess of K5 million.

He said such payments could only be made with permission from the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) and Department of Buildings.

All cheques are signed at the Accountant General’s office, irrespective of amounts. For those more than K5 million, they have to be accompanied by invoices, payment of the cheque prepared by the ministry, certificate of completion (if it is a building), if its services, delivery note and if need be, contract document,” said Mbwana.

Judge Fiona Mwale will continue hearing the matter on Monday.

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