LILONGWE- (Maravi Post): The convict Angela Katengeza in the infamous cashgate scandal on Thursday pleaded with the Lilongwe High Court for a suspended sentence due to deteriorating of her health.
The plea comes as the court is towards the end of case with a final ruling after Katengeza was found guilty and convicted for theft and money laundering worthy MK105 million following the Baker Tilly forensic audit report which revealed that her Faith Construction Company was dubiously paid by Government in 2013 without rendering any service.
Katengeza’s lawyer, Gilbert Khonyongwa told the presiding Judge Fiona Mwale that his client has heart problem and Hypertension therefore custodial sentence will lead to deterioration of her health given poor condition in Malawi prisons.
The defense team went further telling the court that Katengeza is a first time offender who had no intention to steal from government but was rather duped, exploited, used and dragged into the criminal activity.
“My client had no plans at all to steal from Government but was exploited used and dragged in the criminal. She didn’t know for example that the lending company certificate to fellow contractor was unlawful”, pleads defense counsel Khonyongwa.
But the state lawyer Reyneck Matemba objected the defense application by requesting court to apply custodial sentence arguing that medical arrangements would be made while she is in prison while disputing medical report that Katengeza had heart problem not hypertension.
“We don’t believe that she should compel the court to give her non-custodial sentence. Therefore, court must “be cautious” on setting precedence to would be offenders who may in future use health condition as a tool to escape punishments like custodial sentence.
“Money laundering is a very serious offence and Katengeza should face custodial sentence just like other convicts who committed same cashgate offence and are now serving custodial sentences”, justifies Matemba.
Katengeza told court last year that being a pastor had no intentions to dupe government but was entangled after Leonard Kalonga former Deputy Director at the Ministry of Tourism borrowed her company certificate which her company innocently lent out the certificate to him (Kalonga) who wanted to use her company name in getting ‘construction projects that were available at his office’.
But, due to working conditions he could not have used his own company certificate. Katengeza said was promised to receive a percentage for lending out her certificate and she did not know that he could use it to defraud Government.
Court has adjourned the case to a later date and yet for the final judgment.