The sentencing of top tourism ministry official Treza Namathanga Senzani who is the first convict in the so-called “Cashgate” scandal that led to the suspension of foreign aid has been shifted to Monday, October 6.
Senzani pleaded guilty to stealing around $150,000 (63 million kwacha) from state coffers, part of a broader swindle worth at least $30 million and was convicted on her own guilty plea.
She was due to be sentenced on October 2 but it has been delayed .
Trial Judge Ivy Kamanga said the sentencing had been put off for at least four days.
Her lawyer Necton Mhura confirmed said t received communication that “sentencing has been postponed to Monday.”
Nyasa Times understands that her swift guilty plea has been a “ bargain” for non custodial sentence. She is likely going to get a suspended jail term.
“Malawians have not lost because my client paid back the MK 63.5 million stolen money in full. Of course there has been the consequence of withdrawal of donor aid and loss of donor aid but donor confidence won’t be regained by sending Cashgate convicts to jail. Sending her to jail will not bring back drugs in the hospitals.” Mhura, who is also law lecturer at University of Malawi, told the court.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya opined on social media on Mhura’s submission as “.jurisprudence and legal Rreasoning for the birds. And meanwhile on the other side, people continue to be convicted for stealing chickens.”
The state plans to use Senzani as a prosecution witness in other Cashgate cases.
An audit by British auditors, Baker Tilly, commissioned by former president Joyce Banda, revealed that 13 billion Malawi Kwacha (about US $30 million) had been systematically skimmed from the government payment system in a period of six months last year.
Businessmen and politicians connived with civil servants for payments of goods and services not rendered to government.
‘Cashgate’ unravelled following the shooting of former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo in September last year. Following Mphwiyo’s shooting huge sums of money in Malawi Kwacha, South African Rands and US dollars started showing up in unlikely places like car boots or under the pillow as the suspects were avoiding formal banking sector since the unexplained money could have raised eye-brows.
The scandal had prompted foreign donors — who provide around 40 percent of Malawi’s budget — to pull the plug on aid of around $150 million .
The Cashgate scheme is the biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :