Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale has said the white-collar crimes like the biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history known as “cashgate” are somewhat difficult to prosecute, hence the delay in logical conclusion of the trial of K2.4 billion involving former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others.
Kachale said in an interview that there was legitimate justification in the delay of Cashgate cases and that while white collar crimes can be difficult to prosecute, it doesn’t mean that prosecutors are never successful.
“Has there been delay in this case? I think Malawians should understand white collar crimes. Cases of this nature need expert witnesses.
“There was a time when we had to adjourn cases because SoftTech, the experts, were not available on the date that was set,” said Kachale while responding to journalists’ questions outside the High Court.
She said in the case of Mphwiyo and others, some of the delays were “necessary” for the interest of justice.
“As prosecutors if you have a murder and five people saw that murder, you can make a decision to say, now we want to get rid of two witnesses and remain with three so that you can shorten the case to still meet the time.
“In a case of this nature where witnesses are coming in their official capacity and expertise, you can’t do away with them,” explained Kachale.
“Let us wait for the witnesses that need to come so that we can obtain justice for Malawians,” she added.
The Cashgate scandal saw about K24 billion public funds vanish in six months when Joyce Banda was president of the country in 2013.
Mphwiyo is the most high profile face in the K2.4 billion trial that also has former Accountant General David Kandoje, Steven Phiri, George Banda, Michael Mphatso, Samuel Mzanda, Andrews Chilalika, Auzius Kazombo-Mwale, Clemence Madzi and Roosevelt Ndovi.
Other suspects include businessperson Stanford Mpoola, Fatch Chungano, Symphathy Chisale, Cecilia Ng’ambi, Stanley Mtambo, Gerald Magareta Phiri and Ndaona Satema.
One suspect Maxwell Namata died while businessperson Limumba Karim jumped bail and is a Cashgate-fugutive as the State is still processing his extradition from South Africa while simultaneously prosecuting his case in absentia.
The former budget director was shot at the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013 and former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara, businessperson Pika Manondo, Dauka Manondo, Robert Kadzuwa and Macdonald Kumwembe were convicted and jailed after being found guilty of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Kasambara remains a convict but was released on bail from prison after serving sentence months pending an appeal in the Supreme Court while Manondo brothers, Kadzuwa and Kumwembe are still in jail.
It is believed that Mphwiyo’s near fatal shooting opened a can of worms on the country’s biggest corruption case.
Just days before, a junior civil servant was allegedly found with bales of cash totalling more than $300,000 in the boot of his car. More cash was confiscated from some civil servants’ homes and car boots.
Former president Joyce Banda ordered a forensic audit which was undertaken by a British firm, RSM ( formerly Baker Tilly), covering the period between April and September 2013.
The audit established that about K24 billion was siphoned from the public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices of goods or services never rendered.
In May 2015, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciled between 2009 and December 31 2014.
However, the K577 billion figure was later revised downwards to K236 billion by another British forensic auditor.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :