The High Court in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, Monday sentenced businesswoman Caroline Savala who was recently convicted of cashgate affair for systematic theft of government money, to seven years imprisonment with hard labour.
Savala was found guilty of stealing K84 million of government funds.
The 34-year-old Lilongwe businessperson remained calm as Justice Fiona Mwake read her lengthy sentence.
During the trial , Savala told the court she was dragged into the cashgate affair by a childhood friend Florence Chatuwa and Ministry of Tourism top official, Leonard Kalonga, both Cashgate suspects.
She told the court that Kalonga collected 90 percent of the funds once cashed from her Carm Civil Engineering Limited accounts, while she shared the 10 percent with Chatuwa who was the go-between of the two.
The court further heard how Savala, between June and July 2013, though she had never done any construction work before and was running a cosmetics shop that sold lipsticks, received government cheques within months from Kalonga amounting to K84 million and K44 million, respectively.
Savala becomes a third high profile woman to convicted and sentenced in the worst financial scandal in Malawi’s history, dubbed ‘cashgate’
Former Tourism Principal Secretary Treza Senzani, was the first Malawian top official to be sentenced and recently Angella Katengeza was also sentenced to five years imprisonment.
Former president Joyce Banda hired the British auditors when ‘cashgate’ unravelled following the shooting in September 2013 of former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo.
Following Mphwiyo’s shooting huge sums of money in Malawi Kwacha, South African Rands and US dollars started showing up in unlikely places like car boots or under the pillow as the suspects were avoiding the formal banking sector since the unexplained money could have raised eye-brows.