Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director, Reyneck Matemba, has taken over a case in which governing Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey and three others are claiming about K70 billion from the government for loss of business, defamation and malicious prosecution, among others.
The claim follows the DPP CEO’s acquittal in the K187 million case during the Bakili Muluzi administration when she and some Ministry of Education officials were accused to have stolen public funds.
An audit report of March 2000 exposed the alleged scam, but the court later acquitted Jeffrey and others who later sued the government.
On November 2 last year, the High Court in Lilongwe rebuked ACB for lacking seriousness in handling the matter but still granted the graft-busting body its request that the case should be reheard.
When the court resumed sitting in Lilongwe yesterday to rehear the case, Matemba said he had noted that some procedures had not been properly followed and that some important documents had not been filed by his office during the previous trial.
“The way the bureau handled the case leaves a lot to be desired. The fact that I was not handling the matter personally does not absolve me. I take full responsibility and admit that the way the case was handled was not up to requirements,” Matemba told the court.
He added that his office will be seeking more documents, including the audit report that exposed the alleged scam to buttress its case.
“After perusing through the files and looking at the claims from the plaintiffs as well as the amount of money involved, I thought it would be prudent to approach the office of the Attorney General to join the case, not to take over,” Matemba added.
Presiding judge, Charles Mkandawire, hailed Matemba for taking responsibility of the messy way in which his office had initially handled the case and for personally taking over. He then agreed to ACB’s plea for adjournment.
Reacting to the request for adjournment, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ralph Mhone, expressed concern that the ACB seemed to be dragging the case when it was the one that had sought the retrial.
“Probably, the bureau had read everything and that when the matter was ready for trial, they would be coming back without any problem. After all, we are restarting the trial at their request,” Mhone said.
He, however, later agreed with the idea of adjournment.
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