Lawyer quizzes Lutepo, ‘are you an idiot?’ Malawi Cashgate trial

Lawyer  Kalekeni Kaphale representing  27-year-old  Victor Sithole who is accused of being found in possession of large amounts of money, including $31 800 and 122 400 South African rand in hard cash in his vehicle and house in September last year, on Thursday gave an intense cross-examination to State witness businessman Oswald Lutepo.

Lutepo, who is also answering charges of theft and money laundering involving K1.2 billion, testified against Sithole on behalf of State when he told the Lilongwe Magistrate’s court that former Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara forced him to sign court documents to claim that the k122 million cash found in Sithole’s possession belonged to him.

He said he knew Kasambara as his legal adviser although he mostly dealt with another lawyer Wapon Kita, who worked in Kasambara’s law firm.

Lutepo: Accused of prejury in court
Lutepo: Accused of perjury in court

But in cross-examination Kaphale, faulted Lutepo’s testimony on the grounds that as an educated man with Business Empire and legally exposed, Lutepo could not be pressured to sign for court documents knowing the legal implications of such an action.

“Are you an idiot Mr Lutepo?” Kaphale quizzed Lutepo, a former Peoples Party official.

The lawyer questioned Lutepo’s integrity saying his actions and statement were not befitting that of a holder of a master of business administration and a graduate of University of Malawi.

Kaphale called Lutepo “stupid” saying he could not be have succeeded to own businesses such as Naming’omba Tea Estate ad Woget which are worth billions of kwacha with such type of “stupidity”

“Can you confirm to the court that the minister of justice was not your superior, or your business partner, cousin or your uncle? If lam to give you book and tell you to go to court and tell them it’s yours, would you do it?” Kaphale quizzed Lutepo.

Lutepo replied in the negative to all questions, insisting “I signed the documents because I was under pressure from Minister [Kasambara]”.

Kaphale questioned why Lutepo did not withdraw the claim for the K112 million to the court after Kasambara was fired as minister because he was outside the country and had no access to his lawyer.

Sithole’s lawyer also produced a statement from the manager of Agrifeeds, Elvis Mselebo, in which he alleged that Lutepo informed him that he could not fulfill the contract because his money was tied up in the courts.

An affidavit by Nserebo shows Lutepo’s was evasive at best, and untrue at worst.

“In [Lutepo’s] calling after we accused him of delayed deliveries he said that most of his working capital was confiscated by Police while in possession of Victor Sithole, Mr. Lutepo advised us that he contracted Mr. Sithole to supply him Maize for onward deliveries to Agrifeeds,” reads the affidavit.

“Mr. Lutepo asked us to go to Lilongwe and attend the Court proceedings to testify that indeed Agrifeeds issued the LPO of his company. On whether the money was indeed his or not I cannot comment. When we were in Court it is Lutepo and his lawyer who mentioned the Agrifeeds contract to supply Maize.”

According to court documents, Lutepo through his lawyers claimed the money belonged to his company International Procurement Service, and wanted the court to order the state to release the money so he could settle the requirements of the deal he had signed with Agrifeeds.

“That police do forthwith release the sum of K112, 400, 000. 00 that was found with the accused person to Mr. Osward Lutepo of the International Procurement Service in order to enable him fulfill his contract with Agrifeeds to supply white maize part of which he has sub-contracted to the accused person.

“That the said Osward Lutepo hereby enters into a bond to make this sum available to the court should it be required to do so,” reads part of the order titled ‘Court Order for the release of the sum of K112, 400, 000’ dated 13th September 2013.

Meanwhile, the state has asked the court to summon Kasambara and Kita to appear in court when hearing resumes on April 22.

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