Mpoola’s garden boy testifies in K2.4bn Cashgate case

Presiding High Court judge Esme Chombo adjourned hearing of the K2.4 billion Cashgate case to resumes  Monday 30th October  involving former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 17 others.

Cashgate suspects: Mphwiyo (left), Mpoola (centre) and David Kandoje former accoutant general

The suspects are charged with conspiracy to defraud government, holding property belonging to government, theft, money laundering, fraudulently issuing 24 cheques worth K2.4 billion, abuse of public office and usage of proceeds of crime.

The state is expected to parade its 12th witness  with four of them testifyinglast  week only.

The four are Hastings Chiudzu, director of buildings in the ministry of works department in 2013, Kenson M’bwana former director of Finance and Administration in the Ministry of Tourism in 2013, Daniel Ndembo junior son to late Daniel Ndembo owner of Dan Civils Engineering and Jonathan Saniwedi ex worker for eleventh accused person Stafford Mpoola

In his testimony Chiudzu told the court that it was not possible for any ministry or government agency to have a legal contract with any contractor without the knowledge or involvement of his building department as they are supposed to first write his department for technical assistance

According to Chiudzu the assistance starts from the stage where the ministry identifies the need for a building up to the finishing of building as they work hand in hand from planning stage to the end of the project

He however told the court during cross examination with defence lawyer Moses Nkhono that his ministry only deals in buildings and that roads are not part of the building

“Roads, Freight contracts are not buildings, I was the director of buildings for ten years, I can’t be the right witness in other construction contracts if it has nothing to do with buildings”, he told the court

Eighth witness, M’bwana, former Director of Administration and Finance in the ministry of Tourism told the court that during his time at the ministry especially at the material time of July 2013 to October 2013 when the said fraud happened, his ministry had all its allocated funds by the treasury and parliament accounted for and there was no time it was abused in the name of fraud

M’bwana told the court that apart from seating as chair for Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) he was also the signatory to the payment vouchers at the ministry

He further told the court that he had IFMIS user rights where he was log in frequently to authorize a payment voucher prepared by Accounts department of the ministry

When he was asked if he never suspected of any illegal transactions (payments) when he log in into the system, M’bwana said he never suspected or noticed any dubious payments saying everything was according to the funds which they were allocated to them by the treasury through parliament and that all payments in the system were legit payments nothing illegal

“I am aware of the legit payments; there were no unauthorized (dubious) payments in the system. Until I have a concrete proof enough then I would agree but without that I totally disagree that there was fraud at our ministry and that one discovered after someone noticed in IFMIS. Let me say it there was no K5.5 billion fraud at our ministry, maybe that money was coming from any other government departments or ministry not my ministry’, explained M’bwana in response to  the defence lawyer Powell Nkhutabasa’s question

Tenth witness, Ndembo jnr explained to court how he rented his late father’s certificate , Dan Civils to his Father’s friend and work partner, Stafford Mpoola in August 2013

He told the court that he took Mpoola as an uncle who used to work with their late father and that he helped him with money to register his company Dan Electrical Contractors and also acted as a witness when he was opening FDH bank account with the money also given to them by Mpoola

The state however were stunned when its witness, Ndembo jnr, refused to tender the certificate of the company which he was shown to identify to be part of his evidence before the court

Examination in chief, private prosecutor, Enoch Chibwana asked Ndembo three times if he want to tender the identified documents as part of his evidence before the court but he repeatedly said No to it forcing the state to tell the court that the document which has been identified by the witness will be tendered in court as evidence by another witness

The 12th witness to testify during the week, Jonathan Saniwedi told the court that he was a garden boy and cleaner for Stadal Building Contractor at its office in area 12 from 2012 September to 2013

He told the court that one afternoon around 5pm; two gentlemen came to his boss office one tall slim guy in shades driving black Range Rover and one short, stout, big head who was driving a white collora with MG registration number

He told the court that his boss advised him to take cartons in his car and load in the range rover car and that they were four cartons, three were sealed and one broke and its when he saw that in the carton there was money in bundles of K1000 bank notes and that his boss and the tall slim guy who he later says was Kalonga started moving the money by hands from the broken cartons to the Range rover

Saniwedi told the court that the tall slim guy came again after some days and the same transactions like the first one took place this time the cartons were all sealed with brown cell tape and he couldn’t tell if it was money or not in the money

But when asked defence team when this happened , Saniwedi who told the court that he was a standard eight drop out , couldn’t tell the exact date and month, told the court that it was early 2013 between January and March

He told the court indeed it was true that in his first caution statement by the police in area 30 he never mentioned any name but only did that in his second statement which was recorded on 17th October, 2014 saying he was not asked to mention names during the first time

Saniwedi told the court that Mpoola was a good man to him and he took him as his father and that they remain in good terms without any bad blood between the two

He said he knew that Mpoola was in building contract business and that he couldn’t tell what was in the other cartons during the first, second and third visit by the same tall slim guy as they were sealed apart from the one carton he saw money which was broke on the first day of the two gentlemen visit

Unlike other witnesses who would be asked to identify if they know anyone in the accused dock , Saniwedi didn’t identify any of the accused including the said Mpoola and  big headed man (Mphwiyo) as per his description in his testimony

The case continues on Monday 30th October from 9am at Civic Centre in City centre.

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