Outspoken Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general (SG) Grezeider Jeffrey wa Jeffrey has raised her compensation claim from government from K12 billion to K70 billion which taxpayers are set to pay, Anti Corurption Bureau (ACB) has confirmed.
Wa Jeffrey lodged the claim following her acquittal in the K187 million Ministry of Education scam during the Bakili Muluzi administration.
She initially sued government for about K12 billion (about $26.7 million),as compensation for false imprisonment, defamation, breach of contract and malicious prosecution for allegedly defrauding millions from the Ministry of Education in a scam exposed in the early 2000s.
ACB director Reyneck Matemba said the K12 billion was Jeffrey’s actual value after assessment but said the court will have to make its assessment.
“The court would have to do its own assessment , If you win a case and the registrar will have to assess,” Matemba told a news conference in Blantyre on Thursday.
He said K58 billion is for claims related ti loss of business, defamation false imprisonment and malicious prosecution among other claims.
“So we are talking in excess of about K70 billion that she is claiming from government,” said Matemba.
The case is scheduled at High Court in Lilongwe on January 30 2018.
Documents filed at the High Court indicate that Wa Jeffrey, Brian Phiri and two deceased civil servants who worked under the Ministry of Education took government to court following the actions and decisions of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the National Audit Office (NAO).
The complainants accuse the Auditor General’s office of defaming Jeffrey in its audit report of March 2000 by alleging that her business connived with a divisional education office in Kasungu to defraud government.
The statement of claim states that Jeffrey lost an estimated K14 275 971.12 following government’s order to stop payment of a cheque and balance for completed work at Msalura Community Day Secondary School.
During the 11-year trial, Jeffrey and her fellow co-accused answered charges of corrupt practices with a public officer, obtaining money by false pretence, theft, uttering false documents, corrupt use of official powers, forgery and making a false warrant for money.
Wa Jeffrey’s lawyer, Ralph Mhone, who is also Nkhata Bay Central member of Parliament (MP) for People’s Party (PP) confirmed the matter is coming up in court on January 30.
On her part, Wa Jeffrey, who is also Nkhotakota South legislator (DPP), said she is entitled to compensation.
About 55 people were implicated in the scam, but only four—including former principal secretary for Ministry of Education Sam Safuli—were convicted and jailed, although two of the convictions were later set aside by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
The rest of the suspects, including civil servants and several contractors, had their cases dropped or were acquitted due to lack of sufficient evidence.
The K187 million Ministry of Education scandal was exposed through an audit which revealed a breakdown in financial controls and internal check systems in the ministry.
Safuli was sentenced to two years imprisonment for aiding and abetting theft of K100 000. He was convicted together with managing director of Tapempha Building Contractors, Esther Kathumba, who got four and two years imprisonment for theft of K596 802 and attempted theft of K1 999 920, respectively, from the ministry.
Esther’s husband, Henry Kathumba, who was managing Khristu Nafe Building Contractors, was given a two-year jail term for theft of K100 000 which he collected from the ministry.
Snowden Joya, a quantity surveyor in the ministry, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for forging six certificates for completion of work for projects that were never finished.
But eight months after the convictions, the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside Safuli and Jiya’s convictions and quashed their sentences.
The court also quashed theft charges against the Kathumbas and substituted them with theft by false pretence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :