Paladin suspends two female staff at Kayelekera for embezzling millions

Paladin Africa Limited- Malawi office- has sent on an indefinite suspension two of its employees for allegedly swindling funds meant for buying food staff in Karonga District, Nyasa Times has learnt.

The two, Chipiliro Mwenelupembe and Helena Makwakwa, who were working as Food Buying Supervisor and Food Buying Clerk respectively, received their suspension letters last week Wednesday.

“The two ladies have been suspended following long investigations Paladin conducted after noting some dubious procurement of food items,” a source at Paladin told Nyasa Times.

He added: “Senior Paladin officials went to their office on Wednesday where they sealed it and handed the two ladies their suspension letters. The officials also confiscated the computers they were using in the office.”

Kayelekera Uranium Project in Malawi

Mwenelupembe and Makwakwa, based at Karonga office, have been with Paladin since September 2009 and were both responsible for buying food stuffs from local suppliers within the district for workers at Kayelekera Uranium Mine.

It is alleged that the two members of staff had been procuring food items from suppliers not registered with the mine and have also been personally supplying the items using their own unregistered businesses.

Further, several business people who had supplied food stuffs to Paladin are reported to have not been paid their dues yet the company has all along been paying them through dubious suppliers’ names the two women created.

“After a series of complaints from several suppliers, a team was set up to investigate the matter which resulted in uncovering the shady deals the two women had been carrying out,” our source said.

According to documents originated from Paladin, which Nyasa Times has seen, the two women fraudsters allegedly embezzled about K7 million meant for several suppliers.

“Records show that Paladin paid all its suppliers through bank transfers directly into their accounts as it always does. But the two women opened accounts with bogus names of suppliers. They were withdrawing the money and paying the suppliers by installments and in cash,” he told Nyasa Times.

The miner said 23 local groups supplied food to the Kayelekera Operations and Paladin contributed $US48 million ($A46.35 million) to local suppliers in fiscal year 2012.

The two women are popular ‘born-again Christians’ and staunch members of Calvary Family Church at Karonga Boma.

According to Nyasa Times  investigations, Mwenelupembe who is a wife to Paladin’s Exploration Geologist, John Menelupembe, has no proper papers but was hired as a “thank you” to his husband for accepting to resign from University of Malawi’s Bunda College of Agriculture as a lecturer and join Paladin.

Recently, Karonga residents led by Wavisanga Silungwe, chairperson of Karonga Business Community (KBC) almost demonstrated against Paladin arguing that they were not benefiting anything from its mining of uranium at Kayelekera.

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