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ACB boss speaks on gate fraud

by Peter Kanjere:

The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Reyneck Matemba, has explained why they have never investigated reports of gate ticketing fraud in domestic football.

“Issues of fraud in football are outside our mandate. That [issue] is for fraud and fiscal unit of police. We only deal with corruption if the money involved is for the public and if the people involved are public officers,” Matemba said yesterday.

The latest fraud happened three weeks ago in the Airtel Top 8 semi-final game at the government-owned Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe where an estimated K5 million went missing.

Football Association of Malawi (Fam), which receives subventions from the government through the Malawi National Council of Sports, hosted the match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.

In the case of the Blantyre derby, Matemba observed, there might have been a mixture of public and private money at hand due to the involvement of BNS and Fam, adding that private companies can ask the bureau to investigate suspected corruption.

The police did not make any arrest over the missing money for the Bullets- Wanderers game, let alone a fortnight ago when Bullets fans perpetrated violence at BNS during the Airtel Top 8 final between the People’s Team and Blue Eagles.

Asked as to why they did not make arrests in both incidents, National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, yesterday referred the matter to Lilongwe Police Public Relations Officer, Kingsley Dandaula.

Dandaula yesterday insisted that they only read about issues of missing money in the press, saying fraud does not take place under the watch of their officers.

He justified their failure to arrest the perpetrators of violence in the Bullets-Eagles game, saying the police opted for restrained use of force so as to avert a disaster.

“If we could have used force, there could have been more damage. We resorted to protecting life and property,” Dandaula said.

During the Bullets-Wanderers game, the clubs’ fans and officials hijacked the reconciliation of tickets after becoming suspicious with Fam for producing contradictory financial reports, indicating K39 million as the gross and the other K44 million.

Suspecting foul play, the clubs hijacked the reconciliation which involved Glory Gate Management and FDH Bank, demanding that they be paid from the K44 million gross—and they were, indeed, paid.

Fam president, Walter Nyamilandu, yesterday insisted that the matter was sorted out after FDH, whose officers were charged with collecting the cash, took responsibility.

“FDH paid the money because they accepted responsibility for the loss. The matter was closed and, on that particular day, the clubs were paid in full from the gross,” Nyamilandu said.

Malawi News was unable to verify Nyamilandu’s remarks with FDH.

Meanwhile, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Francis Kasaila, has since asked football administrators to expose people behind gate revenue fraud in the country.

“Let us investigate and find those stealing money during the games. We should not shield them but they should be punished. If we do not punish them, the problem will not be solved because people will not stop stealing. As a ministry, we do not man the gates but it is the responsibility of the administrators and the clubs. It is sad that we find supporters at the gates,” Kasaila said.

He said the government was working hard to find a long lasting solution to the fraud by implementing the electronic ticketing system in all government-owned sports facilities.

“We are very concerned that every week, people go to stadiums to share money realised from the gates. We have a long-term solution to the problem. Very soon people will no longer steal money during games,” Kasaila said.

“The gate revenue should be shared using a proper system so that we should have records for auditing. We do not know if the money from the gates goes to real beneficiaries.”

The government, through the ministry, owns most stadiums in the country but the facilities do not have e-ticketing systems. The ministry also owns Kamuzu and Civo stadiums.

When asked why the Ministry has taken so long to allocate funds to the e-ticketing project at the stadiums, Kasaila said the project would start once funds are available.

Fam General Secretary, Alfred Gunda, released a statement on June 30, 2018, explaining what happened for the money to go missing during the Airtel match.

Fam found out that there was general security lapse at the gates; hence, many fans accessed the facility for free.

“The invasion of supporters in the corridors and reconciliation room created a very hostile environment which resulted into rushed-through procedure of reconciliation process and difficult to trace source of error,” reads part of the statement.

FDH also released a statement that they will no longer be involved in collection of gate proceeds, adding that their officers worked under intimidating environment that made it impossible for them to work professionally.

Recently, a group of former football administrators, led by ex-Fam general secretary, Charles Nyirenda, asked Fiscal Police and ACB to investigate the matter.—Additional reporting by Mabvuto Kambuwe

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