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Cashgate suspect collapses in court

Manondo and Kumwembe handcuffed after conviction enroute to Prison

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)- The third accused person in the on-going MK2.4 billion cash gate case, former budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others, Auzius Kazombo Mwale, on Monday collapsed in the sitting High Court at City Council Civic Centre in Lilongwe.

Kazombo collapsed soon after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale finished re-examining the fourth witness Francis Juwawo, and had barely started cross-examining the fifth witness, Kondwani Munthali (not the journalist), when Kazombo Mwale fell from his seat. Immediately, his co-accused Mphwiyo, and another one quickly came in to lift him up.

The incident prompted Judge Esme Chombo to temporarily suspend hearing of the case for about 40 minutes from 10 a.m.

When the Court re-convened at 10:40, Kachale said the State and defence had agreed that Kazombo Mwale be allowed to leave for medical attention while the hearing proceed in his absence.

Kazombo and Mphwiyo are among 18 suspects charged with conspiracy to defraud government, holding property belonging to government, theft, money laundering, fraudulently issuing 24 cheques worth MK2.4 billion, abuse of public office, and use of proceeds of crime.

Mphwiyo: Offered Kazombo a hand.

However, during the Monday testimony, Juwawo told the Court that he came to the witness box to testify on the increase in terms of budget withdraw, and not on the charges that the accused persons are answering.

On his part, Munthali, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning Projects officer in the monitoring section, who during the 2013 cash gate period was Assistant Budget Officer in the same ministry, told the Court that his role as Assistant Budget Officer in the Budget division in the ministry was to upload the approved funding of ministries in the IFMIS [Integrated Financial Management Information System].

He told the Court that in 2013 from Development Fund Ministry of Tourism got allocation of K36 million in the month of July and in the month of August that he uploaded (MK271,349,553)

Munthali told the Court that his role was to upload the approved funds and that soon after the upload of the funds the responsible ministries starts to spend as they now have the access to their approved money.

The finance project officer added that he never received any advice from Mphwiyo to upload any extra funds and that Mphwiyo had no user rights for any Ministry to log in IFMIS.

He also told the Court that he had no incriminating evidence against Mphwiyo relating to the charges he is facing.

Taking his turn, lawyer for Kazombo Mwale, Powell Nkhutabasa asked Munthali to tell the Court who was authorizing the funding in July and August for him to upload in the IFMIS system.

The shooting of Mphwiyo outside the gate of his Area 43 house in Lilongwe on September 13, 2013 led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill christened as ‘Cash gate.’

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