Nkhunzo James Bandura Chirwa of Zonzoma civil engineering contractors , who was working as Quantity surveyor in government, a suspect in cashgate scandal, on Monday pleaded guilty to the charges of siphoning government money up to K513 million.
He pleaded guilty before High Court judge Ivy Kamanga who convicted him on his own plea.
When judge Kamanga asked if he presented the money to the companies on the pretext that goods were supplied to the government, Chirwa responded in the affirmative.
“Were any services carried out or goods supplied when the money was paid to the businesses belonging to the accused persons?” Kamanga asked.
“No”, responded Chirwa.
Chirwa told the court that he was being used in the cashgate affair by jailed Maxwell Namata, who he said he knew him as school mate at Malosa secondary school and Polytechnic.
He told the court that Namata approached him in April 2013 asking him if they can use his company in issuing payments. He was promised 10 percent as account maintenance and other operations like transport for meetings.
In his sworn affidavit, Bandura Chirwa said he was asked to find other friends with registered construction companies, and he approached his colleagues Steven Mwenitete, Muzipase Moyo, and Denis Mhango .
Bandura Chirwa said he was an errand boy but was giving all the cash to Namata.
He said he didn’t suspect any foul play as the cheques were being authorised by relevant authorities and had no problems cashing them at banks.
Bandura Chirwa who hails from Mzimba told the court he regret his actions, saying he was not aware that he was being used in a systematic plunder of public resources.
He mentioned several construction companies which were used in the scheme namely Sky civil engineering, Chive engineering, Nic civil engineering, Makhembe civil engineering, Mwene civil engineering, Stewards construction, Mundikhumbenge construction and his company Zozoma civil engineering company
On her part Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mary Kachale told the court that the voluntary plea of the suspect assist the court
“My lady they spread payments to various construction companies to look like they are not related, similarly they also spread the payments across ministries to look they are not related payments. Taking confession of accused and that of Leonard Kalonga reveals the whole scheme,” Kachale told the court .
She said cashgate has negatively contributed to the nation and put life of 15 million Malawians at risk and it’s sad that the accused agreed to be part of the saga.
In her, ruling Justice Ivy Kamanga convicted the accused with three accounts of conspiracy to fraud, Theft and Money laundering on his own plea.
Chirwa confirmedthat he indeed fraudulently converted to his own and use of other accused persons K513 million from the government.
He also pleaded guilty to the charge of transferring K131 million, to Mwenitete’s Sky Civil Engineering, he paid out three cheques totalling K61.2 million and to Clive Engineering Chirwa paid out three cheques totalling K123 million.
Chirwa pleaded guilty and convicted to facilitating theft of K34 million paid out to Mike Mbwana of MIC Civil Engineering, K56 million drawn on four cheques to Philbert Mkandawire of Mahembe Civil Engineering, K39 million to Mweni Civil Engineering of Albert Mwenibabo, K30 million to Steward Nkhata of Stewarts Construction and K36.4 million to Yohane Kaweche of Mundikhumbengi Building Construction.
On the count of money laundering, Chirwa pleaded guilty to money laundering K131 million on three cheques while the remaining amount was shared between Mwenitete, Mbwana, Mkandawire, Mwenibabo, Nkhata and Kaweche.
The court has revoked his bail conditions and remanded him to Maula prison waiting for his sentencing
The court has set November 19 as the day it shall start it’s pre sentencing hearin9.
Meanwhile, the court has adjourned to November 17 and 18 when it shall proceed with the case involving Muzipase Moyo who allegedly stole K355 million, Steven Mwenitete and Dennis Mhango who pleaded not guilty to the charges
The state has since give the court documents which shows how the three received huge some of money through National Bank and FDH .
However, the state has also filed a notice of application of confiscation to the court where it says it shall apply for confiscation of property of the convicted Chirwa if the need be after his sentencing
His lawyer Powell Nkhutabasa said they shall respond on the confiscation application when that issue arise but ad of now they are only focusing on the sentencing case which starts next month .
In 2013, the shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Former president Joyce Banda ordered an audit which British forensic auditor, Baker Tilly, undertook between April and September 2013 which established that about K24 billion was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In May this year, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciliated between 2009 and December 31 2014.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :