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Judiciary uses bail bond money for staff loans

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Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (Pac) has accused the Judiciary of flouting Treasury rules when it loaned out K1.4 million deposited as bail bond by suspects whose cases were in court.

An audit query for the Judiciary for 2014 showed that money amounting to K1, 141, 000 was loaned to members of staff.

Blantyre City West legislator, Trasizio Gowelo, wondered why Judiciary staff would borrow money from the bail bond account of the court, an account where suspects deposit money as bail bond in case they jump bail.

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“This is supposed to be protected money,” Gowelo said.

Acting High Court Registrar, Agnes Patemba, told the committee that the Judiciary took the money from the bail bond account to loan out to staff members in times of emergencies such as funerals and illness.

“We don’t get enough money to carter for such loans and, in most cases, we don’t get the money for emergency loans at all,” Patemba said.

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However, she said the practice has since been stopped because it was against Treasury rules and regulations.

She told the members of Pac, for instance, that the Accountant General released K2 million only for all the Judiciary staff for emergency loans from January till now.

However, the Judiciary got a rare standing ovation and applaud when it was discovered that it had no single audit query from 2015.

Pac Chairman, Alekeni Menyani, said this was in contrast to the 2012/13 audit queries when Patemba and her team were sent back.

“This is the last time they are appearing before us because they don’t have any audit issues with the Auditor General. They have listened to our advice and, now, they are exemplary to other ministries,” Menyani said.

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