“So they want us to think stupid; So they want us to feel stupid; That’s how they want us to be” –Burning Spear
I think Reyneck Matemba, the Anti-Corruption Bureau Deputy Director, has a lot of explanation to do for letting ‘Cashgatress’ Theresa Namathanga Senzani get off with a mere slap on the wrist for stealing a whopping K63 million from our already gaping coffers.
I mean, even if the disgraced former Secretary for Tourism is making feeble attempts to appeal against the very light three year-sentence she got, I think in her heart of hearts she knows she has literally gotten away with murder.
But, to be fair to the Cashgatress, it was not her fault that the prosecution was so inept it charged her with mere common theft – what they call ‘theft simpliciter’ in legalspeak. If Ivy Kamanga was of the ‘scary’ sentences ilk of the Nyakwawa Usiwausiwas of this world, the maximum she could have given the first ‘cashgate’ convict was five years, still light considering the millions she stole and the debilitating effects her ‘cashgate’ visited upon the 15 million of us.
In trying to lamely bedazzle us in the legal mish-mash, Matemba suggests that the ACB charged Senzani with simple theft – not theft by public servant – because she could still have dipped her fingers in the public kitty even if she was not a public servant. What balderdash is that? Is that not the very reason to slap her with a charge that could yield her the most ‘proceeds’?
Matemba has the audacity to lecture us that the learned clique he belongs to weighed the evidence before them before considering which charge to proffer. Well and good. But what other ‘evidences’ Matemba was privy to beyond the fact that Senzani was a public officer and, being the technical head in her ministry, had the final say on who is paid what and for what reason?
And, most importantly, in between, she paid a fat cheque to her company fully knowing it never rendered any goods or services to government.
Unless he lied to Judge Ivy, that is what Matemba told the court. Ok, ok, he can dismiss the Muckraker as not so learned in law, but even Judge Ivy herself mocked the prosecution team why it preferred the lesser ‘theft simpliciter’ charge to the more serious ‘theft by public servant’. Is he saying, like the Muckraker, the judge needs some Law 101 as well?
In case he has forgotten his Penal Code, let me remind the learned ACB supremo that the maximum one can get for ‘theft simpliciter’ – even from the ‘scary’ Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa – is five years.
But if he had charged Senzani with ‘theft by public servant’ for her to get the three years Judge Ivy gave her, she should have stolen only between K5,000 and K8,000 from the public kitty.
But if she had stolen anything above K80,000 the minimum would have been 14 years in the slammer.
Now Her Majesty the Cashgatress did not steal K80,000 or K1 million, but a cool K63 million, and Matemba comes here insulting us that we are all dunderheads we do not understand the law? C’mon, good people!
Since the case is done, Matemba should explain to us why the ACB decided to caress Senzani with a mere ‘theft simpliciter’. He owes it to us because Senzani’s action prompted donors to suspend the much-needed budgetary support that could have afforded government to buy drugs that could have saved at least a life in Ntcheu, for example.
He cannot get away with the yarn that we are not privy to some ‘evidences’. Why did he hide the same to Judge Ivy who also loudly wondered why the prosecution was so inept to proffer on Senzani such a lesser charge?
Ok, ok, Senzani showed some remorse by not only pleading guilty, thereby saving courts’ time, but also pledging a house and some money to cover for the K63 million she stole. Restitution, they call it.
But, come to think of it, Senzani pleaded guilty because she knew she stole and had no other explanation for her action. As the controlling officer in her ministry, she was supposed to safe-guard government money. She did not.
And the house she pledged may be worth the K63 million she stole. But who valued it?
Even if it was properly valued, who is going to buy it and how much is government going to spend in advertising it to find the right buyer?
If no buyer comes forth in time, it will certainly deteriorate with time and it will eventually be sold for a song.
By the time the house will be disposed of Senzani would have served half her sentence and be eligible for early release for good behaviour to enjoy the proceeds of her infamy.
Reyneck Matemba owes us a proper explanation as to why the ACB preferred a lesser charge against Madame Cashgatress; insulting us that we do not understand the law does not wash.
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