Judge Redson Kapindu of the High Court registry in Zomba on Friday dismissed claims by cashgate convict Oswald Lutepo‘s mitigation that he is too unwell to walk amidst reports, he is fit and well in closed doors.
Lutepo attended court for sentencing in a wheelchair and has been using it since December last year.
His according to his lawyer Osward Mtupila, the cashgate prisoner started using the wheelchair after suffering what he described as an anxiety disorder, saying “he cannot lift his legs [and] h e feels numbered.”
But in April, two psychiatrists said Lutepo was faking madness.
Reports also indicate Lutepo is able to go and bath alone and dresses properly himself in jail.
Justice Kapindu in his sentencing in the high profile case noted that corruption scandal led to a cut in foreign aid to the impoverished Malawi and Lutepo deserved maximum jail term.
“The convict will serve a total of 11 years in prison,” Judge Redson Kapindu said in his ruling, adding that the scandal had had a “bad impact on Malawi society and those responsible should be held to account.”
Judge Kapindu said Lutepo was “clearly a major player in this grave economic crime against the people of Malawi.”
Lutepo, who had previously pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of K4.2 billion (about $9.3 million), looked composed as the sentence was handed down, and said he would appeal against the sentence at the Supreme Court.
He faulted Judge Kapindu’s sentence as “harsh”, saying he has been “inconsiderate” because he pleaded guilty on his own undertaking.
“That should have been considered,” said Lutepo.
Lutepo was given eight years for money laundering and three years for conspiracy to defraud the state due to “the exceptional gravity of the offences and the gigantic sums of money involved,” Judge Kapindu said.
“I have found no single case of such huge proportions in Malawi,” he added.
Lutepo was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of pocketing money from government coffers through ghost companies which did not provide any services to the state.
Deputy Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Reyneck Matemba, prosecuting, said he was “very happy” with the number of years given to Lutepo, saying they would have loved the cashgate convict to be given a stiffer punishment but the laws set ten years as a maximum for his offences.
So far there have been ten convictions, Lutepo is the eighth to be sentenced, while Caroline Savala and Leonard Kalonga await sentencing.
Of those already sentenced, Lutepo has received the longest jail term whle the first one to be jailed Tressa Namathanga Senzani got three years.
Lutepo was whisked away to Mikuyu Prison about 10Kms from the city of Zomba where he will serve his jail term.
Cashgate scandal, which originated in 2005, prompted foreign donors — who provide around 40 percent of Malawi’s budget — to pull the plug on aid worth around $150 million.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :