Khato Civils (Pty) Limited Tuesday refuted media allegations that its Executive Chairperson, Simbi Phiri, had been arrested for defrauding the South African government.
Some online publications in Malawi suggested that the South Africa-based Malawian business magnate was arrested then released on bail.
But a statement signed by Khato Civils Chief Executive Officer, Mongezi Mnyani, says the police did not arrest Phiri.
“It has come to our attention that paid operatives in Malawi are peddling lies that our Chairman, Mr Simbi Phiri, has been arrested in South Africa. These allegations are totally untrue, malicious and intended to bring into disrepute the good character of Mr Simbi Phiri and Khato Civils,” the statement reads.
Mnyani says an arrest of a man of Phiri’s stature would be carried by South Africa’s mainstream and international media.
He says the police in South Africa have never questioned Phiri.
“We are convinced that the fabrications are emanating from unprofessional conduct by some rogue elements within Malawi who are hell-bent on tarnishing our good image and the reputation of Mr Simbi Phiri.
“Such statements that are directed to Khato Civils and Mr Phiri are misleading and devoid of the truth and once more show that there are individuals who have ulterior motives to scandalise and bring Khato Civils name into disrepute. It’s a known fact that there are key leading politicians and officials within Malawi who, for some reason, don’t like Khato Civils and they will do everything possible to discredit us,” the statement reads.
Khato Civils won a K400 billion Salima–Lilongwe Water Connection project but the project went off track after disagreements on funding modalities.
Last month, Phiri’s name was dragged into local politics when some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters carried placards against him over his perceived role in the election results case at the Constitutional Court.
Phiri challenged that it was wrong for some DPP followers to claim that he funds other parties as he has also assisted DPP as a party and some of its members, “including those obstructing Khato’s Lake Malawi Water Supply Project valued at $500 million to take off”.
“When we do have that which we can have, we do [donate] when these people approach me,” Phiri told the local press.
In 2017, Phiri told Malawian journalists, who were on a tour of South Africa, that he does not habour ambitions for Malawi presidency.