Former Accounts Assistant in government Victor Sithole has become another civil servant to be convicted of stealing millions of public money, dubbed cashgate scandal.
Sithole, 27, was charged with being found in possession of unexplained cash suspected to have been stolen amounting to K112 million, $31 800 (about K13.6 million) and R122 400 (about K4.5 million) in hard cash which was found at his house in Area 47 in September last year, leading to revelations of Cashgate scandal.
On Friday at Lilongwe Magistrate Court, Senior Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa, said Sithole is guilty in all charges as prosecution led by Kamudoni Nyasulu has successfully proved their case.
“There was reasonable suspicion that the possession of the money was a result of theft or money obtained unlawfully; the accused had kept his money in unusual places, and his explanation in the court was not satisfactory,” said Magistrate Chirwa.
During the trial, Sithole claimed that the millions which were found in his possession did not belong to him but to businessman Oswald Lutepo.
He said Lutepo, who is answering his own charges of theft and money laundering belonging to government, gave him K130 million to buy produce to supply to Agrifeeds.
He told the court that he knew Lutepo through a friend Dan Zimba and the two only met twice, to make agreements and to collect money.
Kamudoni Nyasulu, during prosecution argued that there was reasonable suspicion that possession of the money was as a result of theft or money obtained unlawfully.
Magistrate Chirwa said Sithole is “guilty as charged” and is convicted.
Prosecutor Nyasulu asked the court to give more time for the submissions on sentencing.
“The case cited in this court is mostly related to the United Kingdom and the Republic of South Africa and these countries have their own regime pertaining to sentencing; hence, we seek the court’s indulgence for an adjournment so that we can give fair opinion before sentencing,” he said.
Sithole’s lawyer, Necton Mhura of Kalekeni Kaphale law firm, said he will provide submission of relevance in sentencing especially on money laundering charge.
The court adjourned to October 28.
Sithole’s conviction follows that of former principal secretary Tressa Senzani who was sentenced to three years imprisonment with hard labour on her own plea of guilty on charges of diverting K64 million of taxpayers’ funds to a private company she admitted to.
Meanwhile, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) expressed frustration over the three-year jail sentence handed to Senzani for her role in the sensational plunder of state resources that has become commonly known as “Cashgate”.
PAC spokesperson Peter Mulomole said the civil society group was concerned that the sentence handed down by the magistrate last week did not reflect the seriousness of the crime and the amount of money allegedly stolen by Senzani.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :