By Wezzie Gausi:
There was a sombre mood at the Area 3 court in Lilongwe Tuesday afternoon after Judge Patrick Chirwa, sitting as Chief Resident Magistrate, convicted former Minister of Information Henry Mussa and former Director of Information Gideon Munthali.
The two were answering charges of conspiracy to commit felony, theft by public servant and receiving stolen items, in relation to disappearance of 10 computers and a genset.
Only one computer amounting to K10.1 million was recovered.
The computers were donated by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to the ministry for use by journalists at the Malawi News Agency.
People that accompanied Mussa and Munthali were seen shedding tears while escorting their convicted relations to the police vehicle.
Coming out of the courtroom, the two were handcuffed and had some of their belongings taken away from them, which included the famous Wilson hat that Mussa likes to put on.
When reading his judgement, Chirwa faulted Munthali for telling the court that he was being pressured to commit the crime.
He said based on the evidence that the state paraded in court, it was clear that Munthali and Mussa had a cordial relationship.
In an interview after the judgement, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Steven Kayuni said he was pleased and relieved that the court has duly convicted the two accused persons.
He said personalisation of public property should never be anywhere near office bearers as they are fiduciaries working in public trust.
“Conversion of public property for personal use should be abhorred by all duty bearers. It is sabotage of the highest order and an economic crime to take home computers and gensets that would otherwise have been useful to the promotion of government ideals,” Kayuni said.
Chirwa has since adjourned the matter to a later date for sentencing.
Defence Lawyer Powell Nkhutabasa was not available after the court hearing.