Two cashgate convicts – Maxwell Namata and Luke Kasamba – have returned just over K24 million (US$50 955) they stole from government coffers as mitigation for a lenient sentence.
During sentence submissions hearing at Lilongwe High Court, Namata restituted the mis-appropriated K14 million in cash while Kasamba has paid K 4 million and a truck valued by defence at K9million (US$19 108) .
Namata and Kasamba were answering charges linked to encashment of two government cheques totaling K24.1million through Cross Marketing Limited, a company whose director is Kasamba. One cheque was of K14.4 million, while the other was of K9.7 million.
The two were convicted by Judge Annabel Mtalimanja. She will determine the sentence following submissions by the state and defence.
Despite the convicts paying back the money, special prosecutor in the cashgate scandal, Kamdoni Nyasulu, still maintained that the convicts should be given a stiffer custodial sentence, arguing that they have paid back the money for fear of prison sentence and not necessarily out of remorse.
“ This court now has to decide whether this paying back of the money can be considered a remorse because in the whole trial, there have been no evidence to show that the convicts were remorseful,” said Nyasulu.
He told the court that Kasamba, a former government employee was in breach of trust and lost his chance of using cooperation with the state during investigations as mitigation, when he turned against the state on trial and exercised the right to be silent.
“You cannot eat your cake and have it. He gave us a detailed statement that helped our investigations but decided to be silent in court; that is when he ate his cake,” said Nyasulu.
Namata’s lawyer Ralph Kasambara asked Justice Mtalimanja to consider being first offender, the cooperation with the state during investigations by Namata as reasons for remorse.
Kasambara, himself also answering money laundering charges related to cashgate, told the court that by returning the money, the state has recovered the loss it suffered.