Former Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) Managing Director David Mattaka and his acting Chief Finance Officer Elisaph Ikombe were yesterday convicted of conspiracy, abuse of office and occasioning loss.
The convicts were sentenced to either pay 35m/- fine or serve 21 years behind bars, each. Mattaka who once served as Director General of PPF Pension Fund and Ikombe, who currently serves as the Bishop with Pentecostal Motomoto Church, were also linked to dirty deal of 26-vehicle purchase.
Senior Resident Magistrate Victoria Nongwa, who tried the case at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam, meted out the sentence after convicting the two accused in all the six counts they were facing.
The trial magistrate sentenced each convict to either pay the 5m/- fine or serve three years custodian sentence for conspiracy. Similar sentence was meted out to each of convict on five counts of abuse of position and each was ordered to pay the 10m/- fine or go to jail for six years for loss occasioning offence.
The magistrate clarified that in case of default in paying the fine, the two convicts will remain behind bars for only six years, as the sentences run co-currently. As of yesterday, only Ikombe had paid the fine.
Magistrate Nongwa gave the two convicts a one-month ultimatum to compensate ATCL with 143,442.75 US dollars (over 320m/-), being the loss they caused due to their misconducts. The convicts will equally share the compensation amount, the magistrate ordered.
She said the accused were convicted upon satisfactory evidences adduced before the court by 14 prosecution witnesses. She, however, acquitted William Haji, former ATCL Chief Internal Auditor, earlier charged jointly with the duo, due to lack of evidence.
Before imposing the punishment, the prosecution, led by Senior State Attorney Mutalemwa Kishenyi, asked the court to severely punish the convicts to serve as a lesson to them and other officials wishing to commit similar offences.
But, Mattaka prayed for mercy, saying whatever he did, he was implementing directives by ATCL board of directors in attempt to salvage the then ailing company. He told the court that the vehicles were purchased in good faith and are still being used even today.
He pleaded for lenient sentence, saying he has a family and several other dependants and at 66 years old, his age has advanced. On his part, Ikombe requested the court to consider his status in the society, as the Bishop with several followers.
During the trial, the three accused were charged with conspiracy, abuse of office and occasioning 143,442 US dollar loss to the public company. They allegedly conspired to commit the offences between March and July 2007 in Dar es Salaam.
The prosecution alleged that while discharging their duties, the accused intentionally abused their positions by inviting tenders to supply ATCL with 26 motor vehicles without approval of tender board.
It was alleged that the accused abused their positions by procuring the motor vehicles from Dubai-based Bin Dalmouk Motors Company Limited, without conducting competitive tendering.
Furthermore, the accused allegedly abused their positions by authorising payments for purchase of the motor vehicles without a formal procurement contract between ATCL and the Dubai firm.