Top tourism ministry official Treza Namathanga Senzani who is the first convict in the so-called “Cashgate” scandal that led to the suspension of foreign aid and helped push a government from power is likely going to escape custodial sentence and the state wants in turn to use her as prosecution witness, Nyasa Times understands.
Senzani pleaded guilty to stealing around $150,000 (63 million kwacha) from state coffers, part of a broader swindle worth at least $30 million.
She was convicted on her own guilty plea and will be sentenced on October 2 by Justice Ivy Kamanga .
But Nyasa Times understands that her swift guilty plea has been a “ bargain” for non custodial sentence. She is likely going to get a suspended jail term.
“Malawians have not lost because my client paid back the MK 63.5 million stolen money in full. Of course there has been the consequence of withdrawal of donor aid and loss of donor aid but donor confidence won’t be regained by sending Cashgate convicts to jail. Sending her to jail will not bring back drugs in the hospitals” Senzani’s attorney Necton Mhura, who is also law lecturer at Uniersity of Malawi, told the court.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya opined on social media on Mhura’s submission as “.jurisprudence and legal Rreasoning for the birds. And meanwhile on the other side, people continue to be convicted for stealing chickens.”
The state plans to use Senzani as a prosecution witness in other Cashgate cases.
Senzani was arrested last year after a probe found she issued two government cheques to her own company even though it did not provide any services.
She was one of dozens of civil servants charged with money laundering and theft.
A report by British auditors commissioned by former president Joyce Banda showed that at least $30 million had been stolen from the government over a six-month period last year. There is also another audit report which was submitted to parliament indicating that about K92 billion was looted since 2005 during the DPP-led government.
The scandal had prompted foreign donors — who provide around 40 percent of Malawi’s budget — to pull the plug on aid of around $150 million .
The Cashgate scheme is the biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :