Businessperson Angela Katengeza, who was co-charged with a former assistant director of tourism at Ministry of Tourism, Leonard Kalonga in the K105.9 million money laundering case on Tuesday told High Court judge Fiona Mwale in Lilongwe that she did not benefit from the cashgate money, contrary to Kalonga’s court submission.
Kalonga told the court that he recruited Katengeza’s company, Faith Construction, among others, to share the proceeds of fraud in the cashgate scandal.
He said Faith Construction later recruited Mchemani Construction as per instructions from then Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
ACB Deputy Director Reyneck Matemba argued that the court statement that Kalonga entered before was baseless citing that Kalonga told the court that Katengeza remained with other money that she was expected to give him.
Katengeza also dismissed Kalonga’s submissions that Katengeza ushered in new contractor under Mchemani as a way to continue to scam government resources which she described as a lie.
“I have already said that these things [alleged theft of government money] involved people in government. I had nothing to do with it. I was merely being used.
“I am a 53-year-old woman who has never experienced such a scandal in my whole life and it scares me that I have been found in such a position. I did not steal any money.”
Presiding judge Fiona Mwale asked Katengeza’s lawyer, Gilbert Khonyongwa, to find out from his client if she needed some time to compose herself.
After a brief chat with her lawyer, Katengeza proceeded: “[Mr] Kalonga told me that he had won a contract, but could not carry it out because he was a civil servant.
“When the cheques were ready, I would go and collect the cash as per his [Kalonga’s] request and gave him. The first cheque was worth K32 million and the second one was K69 million. In all [this], he [Kalonga] gave me K3 million which I used to renew my construction licence.”
During cross-examination, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) deputy director general Reyneck Matemba, representing the State, wondered why Katengeza jumped at Kalonga’s request to withdraw money without raising any suspicions.
He asked Katengeza why she did not withdraw the money in a lump sum.
Katengeza told the court that she undertook the transactions as Kalonga requested.
But Matemba said: “You [Katengeza] told us you are a student and also a pastor. From that, I can comfortably say you are a busy person. How is it that you were able to find time and do some of Kalonga’s errands? Are you lying to this court? Let me remind you that you are under oath.”
These questions prompted the judge to seek further clarification from Katengeza whom the State found with some written reference notes.
Observed the judge: “I need some clarification, why did you not just withdraw the whole lot and give it to Kalonga so that he should deal with it since it was his money? Why did you not raise any suspicion? And the space in which the cheques were cleared, were you not surprised at all?”
Responding to this, Katengeza said: “Of course, I was surprised. But he had told me that he was working on an emergency project. I withdrew the money as per his requests. We could not withdraw a lot because the bank would sometimes tell us that there is no money.”
Katengeza later withdrew the statement in which she said the banks had their limitations after Matemba accused her of lying.
This forced Judge Mwale to order the defense and the state to bring in their written submission before 28th October.
Mwale said it seems there are contradictions in what Katengeza has said from the previous statement.
According to court statement by an investigator in the Fiscal Department of the Malawi Police Service, Katengeza alleges Kalonga used her to siphon K105.6 million from government.
Senior superintendent Gerald Chiwanda told the court that a caution statement he recorded from Katengeza indicated that Kalonga borrowed her certificate from the National Construction Industry Council which was normal according to her.
“After a month, he came with a cheque worth K32 million (about $76 190) which was deposited into my account. I withdrew the money and gave it to him. He came again with another cheque worth over K60 million (about $143 000), I deposited and withdrew and gave it to him.
”We agreed that I would get a commission after the third cheque, but to my surprise I heard that my name appeared at the Anti-Corruption Bureau as being involved in these cases,” said Katengeza in a caution statement.
Katengeza is maintaining her innocence by sticking to ‘not guilty’ plea despite Kalonga admitting wrong-doing.
The case has since been adjourned to the end of October for judgement.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :