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Government helpless on Cashgate buses

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Weeks after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) hinted that it would take measures to remove a restriction notice on the sale of six buses bought using funds looted through Cashgate, there is no progress registered on the issue.

The state applied to the court for permission to discard the six Scania Marcopolo Torino buses fraudulently purchased in the name of Ministry of Tourism.

But lawyer for former chief tourism officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Leonard Kalonga, argued that the state’s action would set a wrong precedent as other Cashgate suspects might demand that their property be returned before trial started.

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In the court’s determination on April 11, 2014, Justice Fiona Mwale dismissed the application, observing that it was “immature” because the trial had not yet started.

Kalonga was then facing charges of money laundering and theft by public servant.

The DPP successfully prosecuted Kalonga, who was convicted on his own confession WEEKS after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) hinted that it would take measures to remove a restriction notice on the sale of six buses bought using funds looted through Cashgate, there is no progress registered on the issue.

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The state applied to the court for permission to discard the six Scania Marcopolo Torino buses fraudulently purchased in the name of Ministry of Tourism.

But lawyer for former chief tourism officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Leonard Kalonga, argued that the state’s action would set a wrong precedent as other Cashgate suspects might demand that their property be returned before trial started.

In the court’s determination on April 11, 2014, Justice Fiona Mwale dismissed the application, observing that it was “immature” because the trial had not yet started.

Kalonga was then facing charges of money laundering and theft by public servant. of guilt in August last year.

But, after the High Court sitting in Lilongwe in 2014 dismissed a plea by the government to release six buses suspected to have been bought using funds plundered in Cashgate, the state is yet to apply for the vacation of the restriction order on the buses. The buses were procured by Kalonga.

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs told The Sunday Times of December 19 last year that the state was mulling its next course of action.

“We are applying to remove the restriction notice on the sale of those buses,” said Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson, Apoche Itimu.

However, over four months after Kalonga’s conviction in August, it seems that the state’s hands are still tied. Three weeks after sending a written questionnaire to Itimu, seeking the ministry’s response on whether the delays to vacate the order may not be tantamount to giving the taxpayer a raw deal, Itimu is yet to come back to us.

But a Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs source said on Friday that the DPP has, so far, not taken any step to get the restriction notice removed.

The source said there has not been any paperwork on the same.

Judiciary spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula, said when we sought his comment on the same that the DPP’s office was better placed to comment on the issue.

The delays mean that the buses’ condition could be deteriorating since one of the grounds filed in the state’s plea to release the 65-seater buses, filed by former DPP, Bruno Kalemba, was that the buses’ condition would deteriorate. The buses were bought by Ministry of Tourism at $1, 277 641 The ministry later disowned them.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau said in December that it had finished its investigations on 80 percent of the Cashgate cases.

“You may also wish to know that the success story starts with our investigations. The Bureau has investigated over 80 percent of all Cashgate cases. There are, therefore, a number of cases that will soon be taken to court for prosecution, besides the number of cases that are already pending in courts at various stages of prosecution,” ACB spokesperson, Egritta Ndala, told The Sunday Times.

However, it is not clear as to whether there could be other Cashgate suspects connected to the six Cashgate buses.

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