After four years of trial, the High Court in Malawi last Friday finally sent to jail nine senior police officers to serve 14 years each for siphoning government money.
The nine police officers were part of an initial 15-member group of suspects apprehended in 2009 for their taking part in a syndicate that stole K55 million (about US$164 000) from the police service.
According to Police Prosecutor, Happy Mkandawire, who led the prosecution team, the 15 were nabbed during a clean-up exercise of the National Police Headquarters accounts department in Lilongwe.
The clean-up exercise was prompted after authorities noticed some sudden changes in the officers’ lifestyles, which was beyond their means.
The officers, most of them at superintendent rank, started buying posh vehicles and accumulating expensive property thereby raising suspicion among fellow officers.
“The nine had formed a network with civilians to siphon money from the Malawi Police Service through over-requisitioning of salaries and also underpaying taxes,” Mkandawire said after the court sentence.
Malawi Police Officers are the lowest paid employees in the SADC region getting just below US$ 100 (K37 000) on average monthly.
Among the convicts is Isaac Moyo, who was the chief paymaster for the Malawi Police Service which has about 11 000 officers.
According to Mkandawire, of the 15 original suspects three were acquitted, two died during trial period while one female officer was given a suspended sentence reportedly for having a young baby leaving the nine.
Statistics estimate that one third of the country’s revenue is lost to fraud and ghost workers, particularly in public service.
This is backed up with last Friday’s shooting of Paul Mphwiyo, who is the Director of Budget at the Ministry of Finance, which government has clearly indicated was not an ordinary robbery but a planned and targeted attack to silence the youthful department head because of his efforts to fight corruption since his appointment as budget director.
The 37-year-old director was shot and severely wounded as he drove into his Area 43 residence in the capital Lilongwe in an attack apparently connected to his tough anti-graft measures within the government system.
Mphwiyo, who was shot three times in the cheek, shoulder and chest by an assailant who stood outside his gate, is currently receiving medical assistance in a South African hospital and his condition is reportedly critical but stable.
After the shooting, the attacker did not steal anything from his vehicle or the house but just fled the scene.
Malawi Police have since started securing some important leads into the shooting and are hopeful will soon arrest the suspects.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :